MTN SA launches solar, wind projects to beat load-shedding

Staff Writer
By Staff Writer, ITWeb
Johannesburg, 08 Jun 2023
Charles Molapisi, MTN SA CEO.
Charles Molapisi, MTN SA CEO.

In a major move to unlock off-grid, clean and reliable energy alternatives, MTN South Africa has launched the first in a series of projects in an integrated wind and solar renewable energy generation rollout as part of its Net Zero efforts.

The company says hybrid renewable energy systems provide green energy to power assets sustainably, reducing reliance on unstable grids and the carbon-emitting fuels that are driving global warming.

The launch forms part of a six-month plan with completion targeted for the third quarter of the year, with a small-scale field trial in Worcester in the Western Cape.

It will be followed by a series of projects in the Eastern Cape, which is a proven geographic destination for wind energy.

According to MTN, the solution avoids the need to work with complicated masts, guy wires, or towers and the windmills being used can be installed at various levels of a cell tower to harness more wind energy.

The announcement comes as telecoms companies in South Africa continue to suffer the adverse effects of load-shedding.

As Eskom continues to struggle to keep the lights on, businesses and household have been investing in alternative energy sources in order to wean themselves from the embattled power utility.

“MTN continues to harness best-in-breed technologies to ensure we drive sustainable solutions across our network. Innovation in generating green energy is critical in achieving MTN Net Zero goals as we move towards fulfilment of our Ambition 2025 strategy,” says Charles Molapisi, CEO of MTN SA.

The telco notes that a standout feature of this project is the integration with MTN SA telecommunication equipment to provide hybrid renewable energy generation for base transceiver station sites and other asset classes with low workload.

It explains that by substituting fossil fuel-fed run time with alternative energy, a further benefit is that there will be a reduction in the amount of diesel burnt per site by reducing generator run hours.

It also increases power security per site, mitigating the effects of load-shedding in line with MTN’s plans to bolster network resilience, with properly sized hybrid, wind, solar photovoltaic panels, and battery arrays, it adds.

Among other innovations, MTN SA is also exploring the feasibility of wind generation and the probability of the various required proof of concept projects.

There will be no interference with communication equipment, and these systems are modularly designed based on the power requirement at any given time, says the mobile operator.

Under Project Zero, MTN SA is concentrating its efforts on decreasing GHG emissions across its footprint and in so doing, enhancing operational efficiencies, extending the lifecycle of network equipment, reducing energy use, and investing in renewable energy sources.

MTN SA adds that it is making strides in the rollout of a four-phase green energy programme. Planned initiatives include onsite renewable deployment, off-site renewable power purchase agreements and driving energy efficiencies at technical buildings, corporate buildings, and technical infrastructure.

This includes energy-efficient lighting replacement and the decommissioning and removal of legacy high-energy redundant hardware. Further to the energy efficiencies at the technical buildings, the use of gas generators and a concentrated solar plant provide additional energy security while emitting fewer carbon emissions.

“MTN is firmly on track to deliver broad, deep-rooted and beneficial alternative energy projects that make a difference to the planet while ensuring we deliver network stability and excellence to our customers. Everyone deserves the benefit of a modern connected life, and innovation cannot stop as we work to deliver against this promise,” concludes Molapisi.