One of South Africa’s big four telcos, Vodacom has announced the installation of new solar-powered sites in Polokwane, Vereeniging, and Bloemfontein as part of its energy and carbon management strategy and commitment to reducing its impact on the environment.
Vodacom, in a statement today, says it has invested over R8-million ($564K) in these solar-powered sites, as part of its ongoing project into securing alternative energy sources to power its operations where feasible.
These three sites are in addition to a solar project installed at a base station controller site in Randburg, Gauteng, in May last year. They will form part of the company’s 1,088 solar-powered sites across all of Vodacom’s markets.
The company also installed the largest single rooftop solar installation at its Century City offices in Cape Town in 2012, and Vodacom Lesotho’s head office has been powered by solar energy since 2017.
Collectively, the three new sites will generate approximately 127 MWh of energy on an annual basis, which will help to reduce the telco’s carbon emissions and lower its electricity consumption.
According to Vodacom, the solar panels will also ease the load on the sites’ batteries in the event of load-shedding, ensuring network reliability, quality, and seamless connectivity for customers.
“As the demand for digital services grows, we will need more energy to keep these services running. In anticipation of this growth, and despite the current economic challenges, we are investing in strategies to decrease our energy consumption while reducing the use of carbon-intensive sources of energy,” says Takalani Netshitenzhe, Executive Director of External Affairs at Vodacom South Africa.
“By reducing our carbon footprint, our aim is to mitigate climate change and its effects on the planet. Solar-powered sites are just one of the innovative ways to introduce cleaner, more sustainable energy sources to keep our mobile networks running and our customers connected in an ever-increasing digital society.”
The solar projects are aligned with Vodacom’s commitment to improve the lives of 100-million people and reduce its environmental impact by half in 2025.
This is also aligned to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular, SDG 9 on Industry Innovation and Infrastructure and SDG 13 on Climate action, as well as South Africa’s National Development Plan, which prioritizes eliminating poverty, reducing inequality, and growing an inclusive economy by 2030.
“We are also working with government and other role players to explore ways in which to transition towards a sustainable, equitable, and low carbon future,” adds Netshitenzhe.
Last year, Vodacom saved a total of 11,971 MWh of electricity through its energy management strategy, which included investing in energy efficiency projects such as IoT capabilities and renewable energy solutions like solar power.
This reduced the company’s total energy cost by R16-million ($1.1-million) for that financial year.