In a little more than half a year since they were introduced, GE’s Durathon batteries have garnered more than $63 million in orders from 10 telecom
operators across Africa, Asia and India to power more than 3,500 cell towers.
The environmentally friendly battery technology uses sodium chemistry to capture excess energy from the diesel fuel generators. When the generator is off and the battery is fully charged, it feeds the stored power back to the cell tower. This hybrid, cyclical charge/discharge operation reduces fuel consumption by up to 40 percent.
GE Energy Storage has no deployment yet of Durathon batteries in the North American telecom market but is testing batteries to assess their capability with respect to North American duty cycles.
The technology can function in a variety of extreme conditions and store twice the energy of lead-acid batteries, while lasting up to 10 times as long,
according to the company, making it a viable alternative in urban, as well as rural areas.
“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, in a press release.
In remote areas with no accessible power grid where operators must provide power to cell towers continuously using diesel generators, fuel costs ranged from $20,000 to $30,000 per site and more than 50 tons of carbon dioxide is emitted into the atmosphere eac
h year. The Durathon battery can help extend wireless service to remote areas by helping generator-powered cell towers operate more efficiently, while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Scientific American reports that renewable energy is taking root in countries with poor power grids, such as India, which hosts about 400,000 base stations. The government there has mandated that 50 percent of rural sites be powered by renewable energy by 2015. The Indian government, which heavily subsidizes diesel, is looking to reduce its reliance on foreign oil and decrease greenhouse gas emissions. By 2020, 75 percent of rural and 33 percent of urban stations will be required to run on alternative energy.