In April mobile operator Vodacom released its integrated report for the three months leading up to 31 March 2016. While it contained all the financial bits, tucked away at the bottom were also a number of interesting facts about the operator’s energy use and cost savings.
Vodacom explained that through a strong focus on the energy efficiency of its network and buildings, its South African buildings have managed to save 1.3 GWh of energy. In addition to that, it has also recycled of 1 006 tonnes of e-waste in South Africa. This includes the recycling of handsets and network equipment.
Solar energy also plays a huge role in keeping costs as low as possible at Vodacom. Currently over 950 “sites” (base stations to us regular folks) are operated by solar panels. The company has also installed smart energy meters, among other measures.
“We have extended smart energy meters to roughly 54% of our sites, resulting in more accurate monitoring and rebates from reconciled invoices amounting to R3.1 million. We are also implementing a simple solution of installing curtains in our containers, to reduce the dispersion from heat-generating equipment away from heat-sensitive equipment. This has seen a saving of 18% on energy consumption in some test cases,” Vodacom explained in its report.
In terms of its company use of solar power, Vodacom fitted its Century City in Cape Town office with the largest array of solar panels on a single building in Africa – nearly 2 000 mono crystalline solar panels will cover the 3 600m² roof of the building.
“The position of the Century City rooftop is perfect for generating a high yield of solar power throughout the year,” says Suraya Hamdulay, executive head of corporate citizenship at Vodacom. “This is a prime example of how business can take the lead in promoting renewable energy solutions.”
In November last year, Vodacom also snagged the contract to sell World Panel solar panels for mobile phones.
According to the United Nations, e-waste generated around the world will reach 65.4 million tonnes by next year. Last year, then-Acting director-general for the department of environmental affairs, Mark Gordon, announced a first-of-its-kind e-waste recycling and management centre. It would be created at the Vaal University of Technology (VUT) Southern Gauteng Science and Technology Park.
“The centre will not only deal with the recycling and management of e-waste for the good of the environment, but at the same time will address education and unemployment, especially in the Vaal Triangle that includes the four black townships of Boipatong, Bophelong, Sebokeng and Sharpville,” he told Mail & Guardian at the time.[Image – CC by 2.0/transmediale]