To secure and procure reliable energy, MTN South Africa this week launched a request for proposal (RFP) which will see the MTN Headquarters becoming a completely “green” office. Phase 1 involves the procurement of providers for alternative energy rooftops and solar carparks and this forms part of the company’s broader Project Zero initiative, which explores all forms of renewable energy on a large and smaller scale.

MTN SA CEO Charles Molapisi says that apart from helping manage the current rolling power cut challenges, MTN’s energy strategy addresses a broad array of immediate climate and energy challenges. The strategy includes mitigation initiatives to minimise and or eliminate the impacts of climate change, reduce energy costs, and dependence on fossil fuels.

Climate action is imperative to secure the future socioeconomic development of Africa. In South Africa, we acknowledge the importance of balancing the reduction of our impact on the environment with the need to connect more people to high-speed broadband. We are adopting appropriate mitigation measures that are enabling MTN and its people to reduce our reliance on fossil fuel generated power. Our focus is to reduce any unnecessary use of energy, create more energy efficiencies, increase the use of renewable energy and to generate more value from conventional sources, such as heat.Charles Molapisi, CEO, MTN SA

MTN is adopting a phased approach towards the development solar renewable energy-based projects pursuant to its Net Zero Energy Strategy commitments to achieve its net zero ambitions. The MTN Net Zero Energy Project will be implemented in four phases:

Phase 1 Facility – 14th Avenue Campus roof top and solar carports in car parksPhase 2 Facility – Ground mounted Solar Facility on vacant land adjacent to 14th Avenue CampusPhase 3 – Rooftop and Ground Mounted Solar at various other MTN FacilitiesPhase 4 – Off-site wheeling from REIPPs

Implementing the renewable energy project will result in improved reliability and cost effectiveness of electricity supply. Phase one could see an anticipated 7,143 Mwh generated (one Mwh is equal to 1,000 kilowatts of electricity generated per hour and to put this into perspective, the average developed economy house uses about 893 kwh a month). These projections are all subject to final bid approvals and evaluations. The preferred bidder notification for Phase one is expected in December this year.

The capacity of the facility will be determined by bidders after having considered the availability of roof top and carpark areas and its suitability for the purposes of extracting maximum capacity. However, it is clear based on current expectations that as we move through the phases, this should be more than enough to move to complete energy self-sufficiency of our building, surrounds and assist greatly in our move to embedding alternative energy solutions into everything we do.Charles Molapisi, CEO, MTN SA

This RFP addresses the following Phase one initiatives and focusses on the establishes of a renewable energy Facility at MTN’s Headquarters:

Roof top – several buildings have been identified for roof top installationsSolar carparks – several carparks have been identified to replace current shade cloth with solar carpark structures and PV panels.Energy storage using battery storage

The facility will include all the required infrastructure for the safe operation and maintenance for the roof top and solar carpark installations, to generate and deliver renewable electrical energy to the selected point of connection and will comply with all relevant environmental and other legislation, as well as embedded generation and Grid Code requirements.

Meanwhile, investing in large IPP programmes will reduce MTN South Africa’s carbon emissions, contributing to the Group-wide 2040 net zero strategy.

MTN SA is utilising its IPP license for self-generation by using Combined Cooling Heat and Power (CCHP) technology (Tri Generation) at three of its switching centres to generate 4.75 MW of power to support building electrical base load, and to be only partially dependent on the Eskom grid. MTN also has 30 off-grid renewable energy facilities which generates an additional 57kW in remote areas where there are no space constraints.

We see this as an opportunity to explore all forms of renewable energy, large and smaller scale systems, as well as investing in large IPP feasibility programmes, which when implemented will reduce our carbon emissions as part of our Project Zero programme to achieve net zero by 2040.Charles Molapisi, CEO, MTN SA

The plan is also aimed at ensuring network stability, where battery solutions and backup generation remain pivotal.

The challenge of providing renewable energy at all of our base station facilities is that this is heavily dependent on space to accommodate large solar arrays to suit our power requirements to support the latest network technology (5G). Our current backup power methodology is mainly battery backup, with key sites having permanent onsite generators and MTN deploying mobile backup generators where and when required.Charles Molapisi, CEO, MTN SA