Africa Data Centres, DPA light up Free State-based solar farm

Sibahle Malinga
By Sibahle Malinga, ITWeb senior news journalist.
Johannesburg, 08 Apr 2024
From left: Africa Data Centres executives: Tesh Durvasula, CEO, Wabo Majavu, executive: business operations & strategy and Finhai Munzara, CFO.
From left: Africa Data Centres executives: Tesh Durvasula, CEO, Wabo Majavu, executive: business operations & strategy and Finhai Munzara, CFO.

Africa Data Centres, a business of the Cassava Technologies group, has announced the ground has been broken at a Free State-based solar farm, as part of its commitment to sustainability.

The project is run in partnership with solar energy solutions provider DPA Southern Africa – a joint venture between Cassava Technologies’ Distributed Power Africa and French utility, EDF.

The announcement forms a key component of the 20-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) that Africa Data Centres signed last month with DPA Southern Africa.

According to a statement, the objective of the Free State farm is to furnish renewable energy to Africa Data Centres’ sites, commencing with its, carrier-neutral data centre in Cape Town, the CPT1 facility.

The renewable energy project is a key element of Africa Data Centres' plans to be among the most sustainable co-location providers on the continent, it says.

Cassava Technologies' president and Group CEO, Hardy Pemhiwa says this power-wheeling initiative provides an example for the data centre industry in responding to South Africa’s energy challenges using sustainable technology solutions.

“This is in line with a broader industry shift towards innovative, eco-friendly practices. The strategic use of solar power showcases technology's role in pioneering solutions for energy challenges and environmental sustainability.”

Globally, green data centres are becoming increasingly prevalent, as firms support climate change mitigation efforts to meet their sustainability commitments. Google Cloud, Microsoft, Schneider Electric, Digital Realty and Amazon Web Services are among data centre providers that have made strides in sustainable energy usage in their facilities.

Tesh Durvasula, CEO of Africa Data Centres, highlights the company’s commitment to power all its data centres with clean, renewable energy sources. "Today's announcement represents a significant stride in our initiative to energise South African data centres sustainably, advancing our objective of achieving carbon neutrality. The first phase involves constructing the 12MW solar infrastructure to power our Cape Town data centre, with subsequent phases extending to our Johannesburg data centres.”

According to Durvasula, data centres worldwide face scrutiny for their reliance on grid power and renewable power, and Africa is no exception. Africa Data Centres is actively addressing this issue by generating renewable energy, alleviating strain on the local grid, he says.

Nawfal El Fadil, CEO of DPA SA, adds: “We are honoured to contribute to Africa Data Centres’ mission of achieving carbon neutrality, beginning with the establishment of this solar power plant in the Free State to serve their data centre in Cape Town.”