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Clean Power

Data Center Firm Teraco Plans To Build 200 MW Of Solar PV To Power Its Facilities In South Africa

Teraco is Africa’s leading carrier-neutral colocation provider. Teraco says it is the first provider of highly resilient, vendor-neutral data environments in sub-Saharan Africa. Teraco says its world-class data center infrastructure and network-dense ecosystems form a vital part of the African internet’s backbone and is essential to the modern enterprise’s digital transformation strategy. Teraco adds that more than 600 organizations, including enterprises, Tier-1 carriers, fintech, global and local cloud, content, integrators, ISPs, security, and storage are colocated within Teraco, providing clients with the greatest connectivity and interconnection choice on the continent.

To help grow its operations as well as invest in a significant renewable energy generation program aligned to the company’s long-term Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) goals, Teraco recently secured a multi-billion rand syndicated loan. The syndicated loan facility, worth R11.8 billion, will be used for the expansion of Teraco’s key interconnection hubs located within the Isando, Bredell, and Cape Town campuses as well as the renewable energy generation program. Teraco says its new data center builds are designed to put sustainability first, minimize environmental impact, reduce energy consumption, and minimize water usage.

“As a leading carrier-neutral data centre and interconnection solutions provider, Teraco is dedicated to protecting, connecting, and growing the enterprises and ecosystems shaping Africa’s digital future sustainably and responsibly. As we continue our journey, our ESG goals form the cornerstone of how we grow our business, engage with employees and suppliers, support our clients, and minimise our impact on the environment,” says Samuel Erwin, Chief Financial Officer at Teraco.

“We are committed to managing our environmental impact sustainably by optimising our use of energy and natural resources. We remain focused on efforts to create energy-efficient data centres that address our environmental challenges, and we’re grateful for the continued support from partners that share our vision,” he adds.

Teraco recently started construction of a new hyperscale data center facility with 30 megawatts (MW) of critical power load at its Isando Campus in Ekurhuleni, east of Johannesburg, South Africa. The facility, known as JB5, is scheduled for completion in 2024 and will incorporate the latest environmentally sustainable cooling and water management designs.

JB5 is the latest expansion to Teraco’s growing data center platform and takes critical power load capacity at Teraco facilities to 156 MW, which includes the Isando Campus facilities JB1/JB3/JB5 (70 MW), Bredell Campus JB2/JB4 (64 MW), Cape Town Campus CT1/CT2 (21 MW), and Durban (1 MW).

In a country where 85% of the electricity is generated using fossil fuels (mostly coal), Teraco has been making great strides in increasing the share of renewables in its energy mix incline with its ESG goals. Teraco already owns and operates a 2 MWp solar array installation at its JB2 facility, which includes a bespoke 250 kWp rooftop solar structural pilot that allows for the deployment of solar over its existing rooftop cooling infrastructure. This pilot project has laid the foundation to roll out an additional combined 2.5 MWp at its JB1, JB3 and CT2 sites in 2022. Almost 6,000,000 kWh per annum are expected to be generated from this rooftop solar program, mitigating more than 5,650 tonnes CO2 per annum (based on 949.1 g/kWh, CDM figure for Southern African Power Pool).

Teraco is working to increase the penetration of cleaner renewables in its energy mix as part of its Clean Energy Glide Path to 50% Clean Energy by 2027.

As most large energy consumers typically do not have enough space on site to install solar to meet a significant portion of their energy demands, off-site solar installations, coupled with electricity wheeling arrangements leveraging the local and national grid transmission and distribution infrastructure with utility companies, are some of the best ways of incorporating larger shares of renewable energy. Teraco has therefore set aside in excess of R3bn in capex over the next 5 years for its utility-scale solar program. Implementation of this project will closely follow enabling regulations, policies, and tariffs as well as grid connection/transmission capacity.

Teraco has since entered into a development agreement with an experienced renewable energy developer and engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) firm to develop and build two 100 MW solar PV sites to generate and wheel power to Teraco’s facilities.  When these plants become fully operational, the 200 MW of solar capacity is expected to produce more than 500,000 MWh per annum.

Large energy consumers such as mines and data centers look set to benefit from these changes in Schedule 2 to South Africa’s Electricity Regulation Act. I am looking forward to seeing more companies adding large renewable power plants to contribute to help add to the much needed generation capacity in South Africa as well as help increase the penetration of renewables.

Images from Teraco

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