MTN Plans Of Becoming A Power Sufficient Draws Near

AFRICA’S telecom giant, MTN Group, is aiming at achieving self-sufficiency in energy generation to power most of its BTS sites, Senior Manager in charge of Technical, Mr Willem Weber, has said.

The company will be adding 7+ megawatts of generation to its existing power to enable it to provide power enough to cover its 8,000 base stations across South Africa.

Speaking during a tour of the facility, Mr Weber said the move is important because the national grid in South Africa are not 100% reliable and cannot meet their growing demands.

Since 2003, shortage and irregular power has hampered MTN’s expansion, hence the need to explore alternative methods of saving the situation.

Already, MTN boasts of a Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) plant, which cools down its energy -intensive data centres. The 330KW comprises 242 solar mirror that track the sun from an area of 484m2.

The CSP project which includes 9.3 hours of thermal energy storage, allows the company to meet demand during peak hours. The system helps the company to save R0.5 million (a year in energy costs.

The mirrors follow the movement of the sun using Global Positioning System (GPS), orientation, date and time. This guides the system to track and concentrate the sun’s rays on the central absorber tube to generate heat.

Speaking during a tour of the facility, Mr Weber described the system as the first thermal storage system ever built for a CSP plant in terms of size and capacity in South Africa.

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He also revealed that the company saved about R50 million since the establishment of the facility four years ago, saving at least R11 million every year.

Also “MTN is aware of the impact of global warming and its adverse effects on emerging markets including South Africa. We continuously explore ways in which we can not only reduce our carbon footprint, but it will substantially reduce our electricity consumption which will release additional capacity for the national grid,” he said.

The Tour of MTN’s power generation plant followed MTN’s sponsorship to Highway Africa Conference. The Highway Africa Conference is organized by the School of Journalism and brings together hundreds of journalists from all of Africa. MTN has been sponsoring Highway Africa for the past 13 years.

As part of the operator’s commitment to the development of journalism in Africa, MTN sponsored a number of journalists from its markets to attend the conference.

The 2014 Highway Africa conference brought together media stakeholders, including journalists and media development agencies from across the continent in conversation on various topics under the theme “Social media – from the margins to the mainstream”.

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