Africa’s first solar data centre cooling system unveiled

11 July 2014

Mobile telecommunications company MTN has unveiled Africa’s first concentrating solar cooling system for the energy-hungry data centres at its Johannesburg head office.

The state-of-the-art system consists of 242 solar mirrors, covering 484 square metres, which track the sun to generate pressurised hot water at 180 degrees Celsius. The hot water in turn powers an absorption chiller that produces chilled water which is circulated into the data centre to cool the IT equipment.

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 is acutely aware of the impact of global warming and its adverse impact on emerging markets including South Africa,” MTN South Africa CEO Zunaid Bulbulia said in a statement on Wednesday.

“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.”

The system was designed by REACH Renewable and AOS Consulting Engineers and implemented jointly with Industrial Solar, Voltas Technologies and Luft Technik.

Cristian Cernat, MD of Voltas Technologies, said: “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 job creation in the field of renewable energy equipment production in our country.”

In 2010, MTN’s head office became the first silver-certified building in South Africa under the United States Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) programme.

SAinfo reporter