Vodacom rolls out solar power to fight load-shedding

Mobile network operator Vodacom has rolled out three new solar-powered sites to reduce its grid usage, slash carbon emissions, and ensure reliable network connectivity during load-shedding.

The three sites have been installed in Polokwane, Vereeniging, and Bloemfontein and will generate approximately 127MWh of energy every year.

The company said it spent more than R8 million on these sites as part of its commitment to secure alternative energy sources to power its operations, where feasible.

Vodacom South Africa executive director of external affairs, Takalani Netshitenzhe, said the sites would reduce its use of carbon-intensive sources of energy as demand for digital services increased energy requirements.

“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,” Netshitenzhe stated.

In addition to lowering carbon emissions and electricity consumption, the solar panels will help Vodacom ease the load on the sites’ batteries in the event of load-shedding, ensuring reliable network quality.

Vodacom’s solar panels at the Polokwane site.

The sites are part of Vodacom’s goal to cut its environmental impact in half by 2025.

The three solar-powered sites in South Africa form part of the 1,088 solar-powered sites across Vodacom’s markets.

In 2020, the operator saved 11,971 MWh of electricity through its energy management strategy, including 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 for that financial year.

Solar-powered site in Vereeniging.

Vodacom also has another solar project at a base station controller site in Randburg, Gauteng.

The company previously installed the largest single rooftop solar installation in South Africa at its Century City offices in Cape Town in 2012, while Vodacom Lesotho’s head office has been powered by solar energy since 2017.

The image below shows equipment at the new solar-powered site in Bloemfontein, which is seen in the title image above.

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Vodacom rolls out solar power to fight load-shedding