SouthAfrica.info (Johannesburg)

6 March 2013

South Africa: Vodacom in SA Renewable Energy Drive

South African mobile communications company Vodacom has joined the country's renewable energy drive by unveiling the largest array of solar panels on a single building in Africa at its offices in Century City in Cape Town.

The installation, unveiled on Tuesday, forms part of the firm's mission to reduce its energy consumption and is expected to contribute up to 75% of the electricity required during peak production.

"The electricity produced will feed into the two main distribution boards and a display panel, installed in the reception area of the building, and will display instantaneous power produced (yield), energy yield and carbon emission savings," Vodacom said in a statement.

Vodacom recently became a voluntary signatory to the energy efficiency leadership network, which aims to improve energy efficiency in South Africa. It is one of 58 members of the network from the mining and energy, commercial, industrial and manufacturing sectors, business associations and government departments.

'Stimulating the green economy'

"This commitment complements our existing environmental and sustainability efforts to reduce carbon emissions within the organisation by 5% per annum until 2014," said Vodacom's chief officer of corporate affairs, Maya Makanjee.

"Through this particular project Vodacom aims to demonstrate that business can take the lead in promoting renewable energy solutions, thereby stimulating the green economy."

Local small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) installed the panels as part of the company's policy to improve socio-economic development.

Skills transfer also formed part of the project and a German engineer involved in the project provided on-the-job training to local construction workers.

The roof tiles that were removed to make way for the panels were also all donated to a community centre project in Delft.

This latest project to improve energy efficiency follows others such as the retrofitting of base stations with free cooling and the construction of what is regarded as the greenest building in the country, its Vodafone Site Solution Innovation Centre in Midrand, Johannesburg.

The building was awarded six stars for its water, energy and emissions efficiency by the Green Building Council of South Africa in October 2011

"Through this initiative and other energy saving projects, Vodacom intends taking the lead in trying to reduce dependency on conventional energy sources and it is our hope that other companies follow suit," Makanjee said.

"We also want our customers to learn from our example and to become more aware of their own carbon footprint."

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