MTN’s trigeneration plant to earn carbon credits

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    Telecommunications group MTN has entered into a commercial agreement to sell carbon credits from its new trigeneration plant to electricity utility company EDF Trading, a wholly owned subsidiary of Electricité de France SA.

    The R22-million energy efficient, methane-powered plant, which was constructed at the company’s Fairland offices, in Johannesburg, produced 2 MW of the head office’s 4 MW energy consumption.

    During a media visit to the plant on Wednesday, MTN said that the emissions reduction purchase agreement would allow EDF Trading to purchase all the credits from the plant until 2020.

    “EDF Trading will use the carbon credits to contribute to compliance of their quantified greenhouse-gas emission reduction targets of the Kyoto Protocol and European Union Emissions Trading Scheme,” said carbon advisory firm Promethium Carbon directorRobbie Louw.

    One carbon credit equalled one ton a year of carbon dioxide emission (CO2e) reduction. The plant was expected to offset 15 000 t/y CO2e.

    Africa’s first trigeneration plant aimed to reduce the head office’s reliance on South Africa’s strained electricity grid.

    MTN noted that reducing the group’s reliance on the increasingly expensive national grid-generated electricity, as well as revenue from the sale of the carbon credits made the project economically viable. It was expected to “pay for itself” within the next five years.

    The project, which creates electricity, cooling and heating from gas sourced from the Sasol pipeline, in Mozambique, and distributed to the site by Egoli Gas, was said to be the first project of its type in Africa and the first time this technology has been submitted to the United Nations (UN) for approval as a Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) project.

    Promethium, which assisted MTN in the design of the CDM, was currently registering the project with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change as an “umbrella” project, which, Promethium carbon adviser Katie Ross said would enable the easy registration of similar projects under this one. She added that the registration should be complete within the next few months.

    Ross commented that the global telecommunications industry held the power to indirectly reduce global greenhouse-gas emissions by 15%.

    Louw added that the carbon market in South Africa held the potential to reach R510-million a year in the next few years.

    The French and South African governments approved the UN registration of the project, as well as selling the credits to EDF Trading.

    MTN has also already started construction of another trigeneration plant at its offices in Centurion, and planned to build another two at its offices in Germiston and Doornfontein over the next few years.

    Trigeneration is the concurrent production of electricity, heating and cooling, which provides power, hot water and heating and cooling for air conditioning from a single source.

    The excess heat, at some 400 °C, is captured and used to supply heating and to operate an absorption chiller, which creates cool water that is used to power an extensive air-conditioning system.


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