Expanding green energy supply for telecommunication towers
Mobile telecommunication is part and parcel of everyday life worldwide. During the coronavirus pandemic its importance has increased even more. Reliable online connections are not possible without the necessary infrastructure.
For this reason, Lebanese firm IPT Powertech Group SAL (IPT) has been investing in decentralised solutions for mobile network operators in Africa and the Middle East since 1993. It operates more than 30,000 towers from different providers in eleven countries. In many developing countries there is no access to a public power grid. Therefore, the antennas are mostly supplied by energy systems directly on the mast, so far mainly with diesel generators.
IPT is increasingly relying on solar power and powerful batteries for its electricity supply. To this end, the company is acquiring the plants, converting them and then selling the electricity to mobile providers under long-term contracts. Currently, the company already operates around 4,500 telecommunication towers according to the TESCO (Telecom Energy Service Company) model.
The production surpluses resulting from solar supply are stored so that green energy is available for use at any time of day. Also power outages can be temporarily bridged. In total, it is expected that in the years to come around 40% of the energy required to date and about 115,000 tons of CO2 emissions per year will be saved as a result.
In 2019, DEG provided the company with a long-term loan totalling EUR 25 million earmarked for conversion of additional masts. Further investors were Proparco and Finnfund, which provided USD 20 and USD 10 million respectively; the loan from the EDFI member institutions was syndicated by DEG.
At present IPT employs about 4,500 staff, with 2,000 further direct and indirect jobs being created or secured as a result of the expansion.
With this financing, DEG supports the development of necessary infrastructure in developing countries and supports the business model of a company that contributes to transformation in the mobile communications industry.