With the recent disruptive loadshedding South Africans have experienced and the threat of climate change, it’s a good idea to start looking at alternative energy sources.
The Department of Energy is in the process of finalising the Integrated Resource Plan for Electricity. This provides an estimation of which energy sources we can expect to be using from now until 2030. Coal is still seen as the main player (64%) and nuclear will also supply a small amount of power (4%) during this period, but the aim is to rely more on other resources come 2050. While many other countries also depend on hydropower, as South Africa is a water-scarce country this is not a consideration going forward (unless we learn to harness ocean power!). For now, let’s take a look at the two energy sources South Africa is focusing on for the coming decades: wind and solar.
If you have headed into the country, you’ll no doubt have spotted wind turbines: long poles with blades spinning in the wind. These convert the kinetic (movement) energy in the wind into mechanical power. In turn, that mechanical power can be converted into electricity.
The amount of energy that can be harnessed by the wind is dependent on the wind speed, air density and the size of the area the blades move through.
One of the main ways of collecting energy from the sun is through solar panels. Vodacom has been investing in this in line with their sustainability strategy of co-creating a digital society without harming the environment.
Solar energy is also vital because of the recent wave of loadshedding we’ve experienced. The inconsistent supply of electricity affects network reliability, causing frustrations on all sides. Solar panels will reduce the load on the station controller’s batteries to provide seamless connectivity for customers.
Vodacom has installed solar panels capable of generating more than 50,000kW of energy annually to power the Randburg base station controller. This will help reduce Vodacom’s carbon footprint, lower our electricity usage and reduce the base station controller’s reliance on batteries.
Takalani Netshitenzhe, Chief Officer: Corporate Affairs at Vodacom Group, says: 'The continuation of our investment in cleaner sources of energy shows Vodacom’s commitment to the sustainable growth of our operation and sustainability strategy where the protection of our planet remains key. In the past, we’ve installed solar panels at Vodacom offices as well as in our network infrastructure. However, using solar energy to power our base station controllers is an area of opportunity for us.’
Vodacom plans to roll out similar energy-saving solar power installations to base station controllers across the country.