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MTN launches first-in-Africa cooling system

MTN has revealed Africa's first Concentrating Solar Cooling System, which will power its energy-hungry data centres.
The system was designed by Reach Renewable and AOS Consulting Engineers and implemented jointly with Industrial Solar, Voltas Technologies, and Luft Technik and supported by the professional team comprising ISF Services, Classen Auret, Project Works, DSM and Pentad. It is driven by a cutting-edge technology called Linear Fresnel Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) that uses heat generated from the sun and has a peak cooling capacity of 330kW.

The system consists of 242 solar mirrors, covering a total area of 484m2, which track the sun to generate pressurised hot water at 180C. The hot water, in turn, powers an absorption chiller that produces chilled water circulated into the data centre for the cooling of IT equipment.

The mirrors follow the movement of the sun, based on the GPS location, orientation and the date and time. This information guides the system to track the sun to concentrate on the central absorber tube where heat is generated.

A completely green solution


The absorption chillers use a lithium bromide water solution, which uses water as the refrigerant. This is a completely green solution that has zero global warming potential (GWP=0) and no ozone depletion potential (ODP=0). When it rains, the mirrors move into a self-cleaning position, and on cloudy days, the mirrors turn down into a protective stow position.

Zunaid Bulbulia, MTN South Africa's CEO, said that the CSP system cements MTN's green credentials. MTN was awarded the first Silver Certified building in South Africa under the EBOM technical manual by United States Green Building Council (USGBC) for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) in recognition of its sustainability efforts in all the operational efforts and commitment at the MTN head office building.

Olu Soluade, MD of AOS Consulting Engineers, said: "The development of sustainable solutions and the implementation of technologies for the benefit of mankind is the prerogative of all of us. The continuous commitment to the reduction of our carbon footprint is the hallmark of sustainable development administered by professionals."

Frank Major, MD of Reach Renewable, added: "A sustainable way of life is, essentially, inevitable. It is our responsibility and our commitment to design and develop innovative solutions that foster a sustainable use of our resources."

A real opportunity for local manufacturing


Cristian F Cernat, the MD of Voltas Technologies explained: "The opportunity to model and design the installation using a high temperature heat source, architectonically integrated creates a real opportunity for local manufacturing and future jobs creation in the field of renewable energy equipment production in our country."

Tobias Schwind, MD of Industrial Solar, added: "Beside such solar cooling system, our state-of-the-art Concentrating Solar Linear Fresnel technology can be used for various applications in all kind of industries where process heat and cold or air-conditioning is required."

Gabriele Eichner from the German Energy Agency said: "This project is part of the worldwide 'dena Solar Roofs Programme' coordinated by the German Energy Agency and supported by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi). We are happy that this innovative system generating green energy is now a part of the MTN strategy to reduce its carbon footprint. So this lighthouse project is a win-win-situation for all."
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