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New Delhi: Solar energy is fast emerging as the preferred option to power up data centres for Indian telcos. The latest case in point being Bharti Airtel commissioning a 14 megawatt (MW) captive solar power plant in Uttar Pradesh to meet the energy requirement of its core and edge data centres in the state.

Going ahead, Airtel plans to meet over half of its data centre power demand through renewable energy sources. Also, Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd, India’s largest wireless operator, plans to build a solar powered data centre in Uttar Pradesh at an investment of around $950 million, as reported by Mint earlier. Adani Enterprises Ltd has also partnered EdgeConneX, to develop 1 gigawatt (GW) of data centre capacity that will be powered by renewable energy.

This demand for data centres, powered by renewable energy, comes in the backdrop of India’s digital economy expected to touch $1 trillion by 2025. Also, India’s green energy space has been witnessing significant traction, with a global shift to green energy to address growing environmental concerns.

“The facility in Tilhar (Shahjahanpur, U.P.) is the first of the two solar plants being set up by Airtel in partnership with AMP Energy," Bharti Airtel said in a statement and added, “Airtel had acquired 26% equity stake in AMP Solar Evolution as part of its commitment to green energy-based solutions."

Airtel has also acquired 8.53% stake in renewable energy producer Avaada Energy Pvt. Ltd’ 21.32 MW Avaada MH Buldhana solar plant in Maharashtra.

A data centre provides the necessary secured architecture wherein computing and networking equipment is concentrated for collecting, storing, processing, distributing or allowing access to large amounts of data.

“Data Centres, which play a key role in the digital ecosystem, have large power requirements. ‘Nxtra by Airtel’ currently operates 10 large and 120 edge data centres across India. During FY 2022, it aims to meet over 50% of its power input through renewable energy sources," Bharti Airtel said in a statement on Friday.

Given that India is running the world’s largest clean energy programme, the government wants to leverage cost effective solar and wind power to supply electricity to these data centres by encouraging electricity storage applications.

India has around 375MW of installed power capacity for data centres, which is expected to grow threefold by 2025. Also, there is a $4.9 billion investment opportunity by 2025 for setting by data centre infrastructure, according to the government.

India is running the world’s largest clean energy programme to achieve 175 GW of renewable capacity, to help reduce its carbon footprint by 33-35% from the 2005 levels, as part of global climate change transition commitments adopted by 195 countries in Paris in 2015. India currently has an installed renewable energy capacity of 89.63GW, with 49.59GW capacity under execution.

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