MTN loses confidence in SA national power grid supply

12 July 2012 – MTN says in its integrated business report that its carbon footprint in South Africa is 165,000 tonnes of CO2 a year, and this represents a decline due to various initiatives. These include a 2.0 MW tri-generation plant in Johannesburg launched in 2010, with a 4.0 MW site in Pretoria. The company also has 22 off-grid solar, wind, biomass and hybrid base transceiver station sites in South Africa. 
The tri-generation plant came about because MTN deemed that the supply of electricity from the national power grid in South Africa is not sufficient to meet power demand. In addition, the company says that the largely coal-powered national grid is highly greenhouse gas intensive. “In this environment, MTN South Africa’s requirement for two megawatts to power a crucial test and data centre could not be met by the state power utility,” the company’s integrated business report states.

As a result MTN South Africa decided to implement a self-sustaining, tri-generation power plant to meet some of its requirements. The methane driven plant uses two absorbtion chiller cycle processes to maximise energy output and heat management. The methodology is the first of its kind in Africa and will generate about R12 million worth of UN certified emission reduction credits. In 2011 it led to savings of more than R3 million in operating expenses and additional savings are forecast.

In Nigeria, MTN depends on diesel to operate its base stations. Its carbon footprint in Nigeria is 460 tonnes of CO2 equivalent a year. However, it has embarked on a drive to reduce its dependency on diesel by introduction hybrid power solutions for generators and connecting 1,000 rural base stations to the national power grid.

In Ghana the company has outsourced its network sites, though it continues to account for the carbon and energy intensity of these, with its carbon footprint in that country being 31.7 tonnes of CO2 equivalent a year.