Information and communication technology giant Vodacom has invested more than R8-million to install new solar-powered sites in Polokwane, Vereeniging and Bloemfontein as the company continues to secure alternative energy sources to power its operations where feasible.
The three new solar-powered sites will generate about 127 MWh/y of energy, helping to reduce Vodacom’s carbon emissions and lower its electricity consumption, as well as ease the load on the sites’ batteries in the event of load-shedding, ensuring network reliability, quality and seamless connectivity for customers.
The project forms part of Vodacom’s energy and carbon management strategy and commitment to reducing its impact on the environment, and is in addition to a solar project installed at a base station controller site in Randburg, Gauteng, in May last year and largest single rooftop solar installation at its Century City offices in Cape Town in 2012.
The three solar-powered sites form part of the 1 088 solar-powered sites across all of Vodacom’s markets.
Vodacom Lesotho's head office has been powered by solar energy since 2017.
“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,” said Vodacom South Africa external affairs Takalani Netshitenzhe.
“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.”
While Vodacom has made progress in its waste and water reduction strategies, energy consumption remains its largest environmental impact and requires significant investment to reach the company’s set targets.
“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,” added Netshitenzhe.
In 2020, Vodacom saved a total of 11 971 MWh of electricity through its energy management strategy, which included investing in energy efficiency projects such as Internet of Things capabilities and renewable energy solutions like solar power.
This reduced the company’s total energy cost by R16-million for that financial year.