MTN R22m builds 2MW tri-generation plant to ease dependence on Govt utility Eskom

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

MTN last week unveiled its 2MW tri-generation plant in a move intended to ease its dependence on Eskom electricity. MTN said the R22m methane-driven plant would ensure continued security of supply and support its growth plans.

"We needed to ensure that the company's expansion and growth plans were not hampered by energy shortages or a lack of the power supply we require at the MTN campus to drive the business forward. Our challenge was to look at what was available versus what we needed, and come up with a plan to connect the two," Karel Pienaar, MD of MTN SA, said last week.

"This plant will also assist us in reducing the greenhouse gas emissions associated with the electricity consumption here at our headquarters, resulting in a reduction of coal-based electricity generation and its associated environmental consequences," Mr Pienaar said.

Tri-generation refers to the simultaneous production of heat, power and chilled water.
A tri-generation plant is described as a co-generation plant that has added absorption chillers that take the "waste heat" a co-generation plant would have "wasted" and converts it into chilled water that can be used for air conditioning.

A tri-generation plant is considered to be 50% more efficient than a co-generation plant. MTN will get the methane to fire the plant from Sasol in Secunda via natural gas distributor Egoli Gas. A grid at MTN's offices at Fairland in Roodepoort was connected to Egoli Gas to take the gas down a pipeline to the tri-generation plant now being built near the company's offices.

Deputy Communications Minister Dina Pule last week said the plant was in line with the government's promotion of renewable energy sources. "We must make alternative energy our business."

She said "it makes sense" for companies to invest in renewable energy as that could provide an alternative source of income. Through the medium-term power purchase programme, companies can sell excess power to Eskom.

Pienaar said MTN had registered the plant as a carbon credit project, which would enable the company to sell carbon credits. MTN would use the credits to offset some of the costs associated with the plant, Mr Pienaar said.

The United Nations Clean Development Mechanism allows emission-reduction projects in developing countries to earn certified emission reduction credits. These credits can be traded and sold, and used by industrialised countries to meet a part of their emission reduction targets under the Kyoto Protocol.