11 August 2010 – The MTN Group has deployed what it said was the first methane-driven environmentally friendly tri-generation plant on the African continent.

A statement on the group’s website said the 2-megawatt plant, valued at US$3,057,780, would generate electricity and water for the air-conditioning systems in all MTN headquarters building through a second re-absorption chiller cycle using the waste heat.

It said methane gas is a clean-burning, sustainable gas that is reliable and offers a consistent supply.

The technology would be spread through MTN’s operations across Africa and the Middle East, the statement said.

"The journey of methane to the MTN Campus at 14th Avenue in Fairlands, Johannesburg, covers a distance of 874kms, from the Mozambique coast via Secunda and Sasol to Egoli Gas," the statement said.

A grid at the MTN Campus is connected to Egoli Gas to transport the gas down a pipeline to the tri-generation plant that is currently under construction below the Phase II building.

When the plant is fully operational and producing 2 MW of power, MTN expects a return on its investment within a five-year period.

The statement said by generating its own power, MTN was now in a position to plan its own grid to roll-out its services to areas where they were needed.

"As a spin-off, the plant will produce an estimated 800KW of cooling for free, resulting in further savings in the building’s air conditioning processes," the statement said.

It said using the tri-generation plant meant methane gas is burned in the machines and the energy created by the gas-fired engines generates heat and electricity.

The waste heat from the engines would be used in the absorption chiller to cool the water.

"This chilled water is then supplied to the air-handling units that supply the cooled air for the electronic equipment housed in the new building – the Test Switch centre on the ground floor and the Data Centre on the first floor.

The water from the six huge cooling towers would be used to cool down the heat from the engines.

"As it is not used in the absorption cycle, this ‘grey water’ is then recycled through the Phase 1 and Phase 2 buildings on the MTN campus to flush the toilets," the statement noted.

It said all the plant’s processes had been designed to result in savings in the water and electricity costs, adding that, once it is running at 100 percent capacity, the plant’s load excess will power and cool the campus.

Recently, Vodafone Ghana invested GH¢150,000 into environmentally friendly projects as its contribution to ensuring that telecom operators in Ghana became conscious of and did something about climate change.