MTN SA inks first renewable energy deal
By Staff Writer, ITWebJohannesburg, 22 May 2023
Read time 4min
Charles Molapisi, MTN SA CEO.
In a move to unlock off-grid, clean and reliable energy alternatives, MTN South Africa has launched a request for information (RFI) for zero carbon renewable “wheeling” and on-site renewable solutions for various data centres and base transceiver station (BTS) sites across the country.
MTN SA has also signed its first power purchase agreement with a renewable power producer and its first project in a solar renewable energy generation rollout will launch soon.
The company has signed a pledge with the SBTi, which defines and promotes best practice in science-based target setting, that formally commits MTN to a Net Zero 2040 ambition, it says in a statement.
“Various initiatives have begun to achieve this, including the construction of a solar park at the MTN headquarters in Johannesburg, signing of the first power purchase agreement with a renewable power producer and testing numerous solutions for further deployment,” says Charles Molapisi, CEO of MTN South Africa.
The move comes as South Africa continues to suffer power shortages, with Eskom struggling to keep the lights on.
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Load-shedding implemented by Eskom has also resulted in a spike in theft and vandalism at telco base stations, as the criminals take advantage of the cover of darkness to target the infrastructure.
MTN’s hybrid energy RFI calls for applicants to deliver innovative solutions across solar, wind, hydro and any alternative innovative solution that ensures there are no emissions associated with the generation of the energy.
Wheeling refers to the transportation of electricity from a generator to a remotely located end-user and this may take place across different distribution networks.
Interested parties are required to respond to the RFIs by e-mailing ProcurementBids.ZA@mtn.com and the e-mail subject line should be “wheeling solution” or “on-site solution” depending on the supplier’s interest. The closing date is Monday, 19 June.
“Our aim with these two RFIs is to gain an edge through renewable energy solutions across the MTN footprint. Given the various challenges in South Africa, solutions must be scalable and offer high availability and efficiency,” says Molapisi.
“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.
“MTN continues to harness best-in-breed technology 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 Molapisi.
MTN SA says it aims to ensure these projects prove seamless integration with its telecommunication equipment, to provide hybrid renewable energy generation for BTS sites and other asset classes.
It adds 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.
In 2021, Ralph Mupita, MTN Group president and CEO, signed the SBTi pledge and 2040 target.
“This implies that our carbon emissions must be balanced and means we need to apply more low-carbon and carbon-zero approaches. It entails utilising goods and services with zero or low carbon emissions, aligned with global standards. The sustainability projects we are rolling out in SA are aimed at doing just that,” comments Molapisi.
To play its role in driving sustainability and meeting net-zero emission goals, MTN SA is making strides in the rollout of a four-phase green energy programme, says the firm.
Planned initiatives include onsite renewable deployment, offsite 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, it notes.
According to the company, phase one of the approach involves transforming the 14th Avenue MTN campus into a solar park, which will see 40% less dependency on grid electricity.
After performing technical studies on the campus, the preferred solution will see solar PV panels being placed at the campus, with a battery energy storage system.
“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.