GE posts $63M in orders for Durathon sodium-halide battery systems
20 September 2012
GE’s Energy Storage business announced $63 million in new Durathon sodium-halide battery orders since the business launched in July. (Earlier post.) In its first weeks of operation, the business secured 10 new telecom customer orders across several regions, including Africa, Asia, India and the US powering a total of more than 3,500 cell towers.
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. The technology is unique because it can function in a variety of extreme conditions and store as much energy as lead-acid batteries twice its size while lasting up to 10 times as long.—Prescott Logan, General Manager, GE Energy Storage
GE’s Durathon battery technology works by employing 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, cyclic charge/discharge operation reduces fuel consumption by up to 40%.
The Durathon battery can help extend mobile phone service to billions of people worldwide by helping generator-powered cell towers operate more efficiently, while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions. With more than one billion people—and potential cell phone subscribers—living in remote areas with no accessible power grid, operators are often forced to continuously power cellular base stations using diesel fuel. This costs an average of $20,000 to $30,000 per site and adds more than 50 tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere per year.
Megatron Federal, an engineering company based in Johannesburg, South Africa, was the first customer to sign a purchase agreement for 700 batteries in early 2012, adding 300 more shortly thereafter. The company with products and services in power generation, transmission, distribution, construction and telecommunications, signed another agreement to purchase 6,000 batteries when GE Energy Storage formally opened the new Schenectady facility. These batteries will ensure the continuous operation of telecom installations in Nigeria. They will also enable Megatron to lower both fuel consumption and emissions of diesel generator powered telecom towers by up to 50%.
GE Energy Storage is experiencing increased demand for the technology with other new orders set to be finalized. By mid-2013, GE anticipates having more than 1,000 hybrid telecom installations worldwide and over five times that number by year-end.
Generally, solar PV is cheaper than small generators burning petroleum. If the installations aren't using that also (and wind where available), there's a lot of lost opportunity for savings.
Posted by: Engineer-Poet | 20 September 2012 at 04:03 AM
It sounds like existing generator systems can charge the new batteries from diesel waste heat during peak load, then perhaps shut off engines all night.
The 500+ degrees F cell operating temperature, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Molten_salt_battery may be less practical for solar.
Posted by: kelly | 20 September 2012 at 07:04 AM
Oops, perhaps practical http://aristapower.com/
Posted by: kelly | 20 September 2012 at 07:14 AM
Posted by: kelly | 20 September 2012 at 07:19 AM
can solar not heat the halides directly?
Posted by: EVryman | 20 September 2012 at 08:36 AM
Good observation E-P. We installed many navigation-aids/communication and satellite relay stations in many countries using solar panels and storage batteries years ago. In sandy areas, the solar panels need regular cleaning. Batteries lasted an average of 5 to 8 years. Solar panels 4 to 5 times longer. Such systems worked very well in 50+ places in the Himalaya mountains, African and Arabian deserts.
The new GE Durathon batteries will probably do better. It is questionable why diesel gensets are required, except on very large stations, but even there, large solar panels could do the job?
Posted by: HarveyD | 20 September 2012 at 08:58 AM
The internal resistence of the sodium batteries is such that when you are charging or drawing energy the heat produced internally is more than enough to maintain the temperature of operation. Indeed, at moderate currents you actually have excess heat and need to "cool" the batteries down to the operating temperature.
Posted by: Brotherkenny4 | 20 September 2012 at 09:00 AM
"The internal resistence of the sodium batteries is such that when you are charging or drawing energy the heat produced internally is more than enough to maintain the temperature of operation." - link?
Posted by: kelly | 20 September 2012 at 10:55 AM