MTN installs first Solar Powered Cooling System for Data Centres in South Africa


MTN is one of Africa’s largest telecoms companies and they are trying to turn the heat down at their data centers, cooling them down using solar energy, as compared to electricity, which has become ridiculously expensive in the southern region lately.

The solar cooling system is composed of 242 mirrors on an area of 484 square metres.

Here’s how it works:

  • There are solar mirrors that trap sunlight and generate hot water under pressure.
  • This hot water then powers an absorption chiller that chills the water which is then forwarded to the data center servers to cool it by circulation.
The first African solar cooling system for data centers at MTN South Africa

According to SouthAfrica. info, when it rains, the mirrors move into a self-cleaning position, and on cloudy days the mirrors turn down into a protective “stow” position.

MTN South Africa already has it installed and CEO Zunaid Bulbulia says “We continuously explore ways in which we can not only reduce our carbon footprint, but also substantially reduce our electricity consumption, which will release additional capacity for the national grid.”

This investment by MTN into renewable energy comes due to the increasing prices of electricity in the SADC region, with countries like Zambia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

In Zambia, the main electricity provider is ZESCO, whose rates have been increased recently, leaving the majority poor to opt for charcoal braziers and candles as alternatives. However these alternatives add to increasing levels of air pollution.

Most electricity suppliers in the region claim they increase prices to meet the growing demand for power both domestically and industrially.

Getting back to MTN, they have decided to invest in this much environmental friendlier alternative due to those increased rates of electricity as well as to meet the growing demand for data services in the region.

To stress this point Andrew Makanya, who is Managing Director for Internet Solutions Zambia, had this to say, “Solar energy is the only solution for operators especially when it comes to the running of data centers and powering base stations because high electricity tariff coupled with power supply unreliability may make operators to operate at a loss.”

Until just recently, data services were being accessed through other countries overseas but now investments are being made in data centers in the country, and others in Africa,  to facilitate a locally based operating center that caters solely to the nation, improving efficiency and accessibility.

We hope the installation also happens soon in Zambia. We’re keeping our eyes peeled for that.

Image Credit: IT Web Africa





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