MTN SA says it is moving fast to become a standalone independent power producer (IPP) by harnessing the power of multiple generation technologies, which will include additional solar, gas and battery energy systems, in one plant at its head office in Fairlands, Johannesburg.
In a statement, the firm says the plant will be a first in South Africa, with five different generation technologies being housed in one plant, with a full load of 4.5MW during load-shedding.
Its head office hybrid facility currently has a 2MW gas trigeneration system, a 330kW concentrating solar power plant and a fleet of backup diesel generators.
MTN SA says it now intends adding a 4MW Grid Tie Solar System (5MWp) and a 2MW/6MWh Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) to the existing plant.
Phase two of the project will see a further increase in solar and battery energy, with the potential opportunity to feed energy back to the power grid, it explains.
According to the company, this, in turn, will drastically reduce MTN’s carbon emissions footprint.
MTN’s intention is to align with the Paris Agreement scenario of limiting the global temperature rise to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. MTN has set out to achieve net zero emissions by 2040, 10 years earlier than the objective set by the GSMA global telecoms industry body.
By embracing clean embedded generation technology, MTN says it will be able to go off the grid and help accelerate SA’s move to a better future.
As an IPP, it adds, MTN will be able to assist the City of Johannesburg to generate power in peak periods and help, in some measure, to alleviate SA’s energy crunch.
“We are pioneering embedded generation technology and making swift progress. Everything is on track for us to soon become an IPP in our own right, allowing us to better manage our energy when load-shedding strikes,” says MTN SA CEO Charles Molapisi.
“Once completed, our grid dependency will be significantly reduced. When load-shedding starts, the facility will disconnect from the City Power grid and multiple non-interruptible power supplies will power essential services. This provides time for the diesel generators to start and power each building in the facility.
“When the system is stable, a controller will engage switch gear to energise a medium-voltage (11KV) distribution network.
"Following this, the 2MW gas engines in the trigeneration plant will be energised, allowing the diesel generation to be reduced, supported by the 2MW BESS. In the day, the solar plant will also assist, further reducing dependency on the diesel generators and BESS,” explains Molapisi.
The telco says during normal daily operation, the solar and BESS system will reduce the amount of energy required from City Power during daytime and peak demand periods.
“With climate change posing an immediate threat to all our futures, MTN is taking action to harness technology and innovation to do the right thing and accelerate change. Low-carbon and carbon-zero approaches will ensure we achieve our climate goals, while ensuring we leave a country that future generations can be proud of,” concludes Molapisi.