Connecting the World: GE's Durathon Batteries Rack Up Sales and Green Cell Towers0

Ysabel Yates | Tue Sep 18 2012

Today, GE’s Energy Storage business announced $63 million in orders for new ecomagination-qualified Durathon batteries, which store as much as lead-acid batteries twice their size while lasting up to 10 times as long.

This milestone, coming only months after the business launched in July, means that more Durathon batteries will be employed worldwide in generator-powered cell towers to increase operating efficiency, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help connect more people in an environmentally-responsible way.

“Durathon batteries help solve key challenges for customers in emerging markets, where power outages and cycle disruption are prevalent, and in developed markets where batteries currently take up large spaces in cramped urban centers,” said Prescott Logan, General Manager, GE Energy Storage.

Powerful Connections

Portable, inexpensive and accessible, cell phones have the power to connect the world like no other technology to date. In the past decade, mobile-to-mobile connections have accomplished amazing things – from helping bring people out of poverty to improving public health.

Yet because over one billion people live in remote areas with no accessible power grid, operators are often forced to continuously power cellular base stations using diesel fuel to power these vital connections. This costs an average of $20,000 to $30,000 per site and adds over 50 tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year.

The technology can store as much energy as lead-acid batteries twice its size while lasting up to 10 times as long

The Durathon batteries can capture excess energy from the diesel fuel generators and feed the stored power back to the cell tower when the generator is off. This can reduce fuel consumption by up to 40 percent.

“It is estimated that the telecom industry accounts for 2 percent of the total world carbon footprint and could reach an alarming 4 percent by 2020 if solutions aren’t implemented in the near-term,” said GE ecomagination Vice President, Mark Vachon. “We know that in this current global context, we must stay laser focused on what our customers need to make their operations more productive, resource efficient and environmentally smart.”

The batteries are produced using abundantly available raw materials and use environmentally responsible sodium chemistry to capture excess energy from the diesel fuel generators. Durathon systems come equipped with a battery management system to optimize battery life and performance, protect against destructive conditions, and enable remote monitoring and diagnostics.

The batteries are green at the end of their lives, too: they are non-toxic and fully recyclable.

Reliable and Cost-Effective

In its first weeks of operation, GE’s Energy Storage business secured 10 new telecom customer orders and the batteries are powering over 3,500 cell towers.

The batteries provide reliable and cost-effective energy storage options for customers across the globe – including Africa, Asia, India and the U.S. – and are produced at GE’s Energy Storage high-tech battery manufacturing facility in Schenectady, NY. The plant is a result of GE’s $100 million initial investment in battery technology.

More productive, resource efficient and environmentally smart

Among GE’s newest Durathon battery customers is Adrian Company LDT, a Telecommunication, Power and ICT Service Provider headquartered in Nairobi.

“For our sites located in densely populated areas where wireless signals and data transmission loads are heaviest, the Durathon battery has proven to be the perfect innovation solution for us to implement,” said Bernard Njoroge, Group Managing Director, Adrian Group of Companies.

Demand for the technology is increasing, and by mid-2013, GE anticipates having over 1,000 hybrid telecom installations worldwide and over five times that number by the end of the year.

Top image courtesy Flickr user Phil Hart.