Vodacom South Africa will buy much more of the electricity it needs for its operations from renewable energy sources within the next three years, the telecommunications operator said on Thursday.
This is part of a pledge it has made to halve its environmental impact by 2025, a goal it intends achieving by expanding its investment in solar-powered base stations — to date, the company has 1 088 of these deployed – and by purchasing more renewable energy from independent power producers (IPPs).
“We are adopting a blended approach,” a company spokesman told TechCentral. Vodacom will, however, continue to make use of Eskom-supplied electricity even as it lessens its reliance on non-renewable energy sources.
“We will achieve the target through investing in energy efficiency and renewable energy at our sites, purchasing renewable energy through power purchase agreements [with IPPs] and purchasing renewable energy certificates, which is the last option,” the spokesman said.
The announcement by South Africa’s largest mobile operator comes as it plays host on Thursday and Friday to the Just Transition Multi-Stakeholder Conference at its offices in Midrand. Vodacom is a sponsor of the event.
In the last financial year, Vodacom sourced nearly 1.2 million kilowatt-hours of energy through agreements with IPPs, helping it reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 12 272mtCO2e (metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent).
“The target will have a huge impact on Vodacom’s pledge, as electricity consumption is the primary source of its greenhouse gas emissions,” the company said in a statement.
Internet of things
Technology from IoT.nxt, a Vodacom subsidiary, has allowed the operator to deploy internet of things-based controls to more than 7 200 of its base stations in South Africa, resulting in a 2.8% decrease in energy consumption in the last financial year.
In the statement, Vodacom said its plan to wean itself further off non-renewable sources of electricity by 2025 will contribute to the transition to a low-carbon economy in South Africa, “thereby helping government achieve its Paris Agreement goal, which requires countries to cut greenhouse gas emissions to keep global temperatures below 1.5°C or 2°C above pre-industrial levels”, it said.