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Intelligent Energy announces US$1.8B deal for ~27K telecom towers in India; fuel cell power for ~70%; landmark in fuel cell deployment

UK-based fuel cell developer Intelligent Energy will purchase contracts from GTL Limited to supply energy-management services across more than 27,400 telecom towers in India—about 6.4% of the country’s total. Essential Energy, a subsidiary of Intelligent Energy in India, will assume the power management for the towers—a figure equivalent to 50% of the UK’s telecom towers and 13% of the US’. Essential Energy intends to transition around 70% of the managed telecom towers from diesel power to hydrogen fuel cells throughout their contracts’ tenure.

The transaction delivers contracted revenues of approximately £1.2 billion (US$1.8 billion) over ten years—a major development for Intelligent Energy and the industry, said Henri Winand, CEO of Intelligent Energy Holdings. The landmark deal also represents a major milestone in hydrogen fuel cell deployment.

Our technology will not only help to bring a stable, reliable power supply to these towers, it will also demonstrate the full power of hydrogen fuel cells today, and in the future. Using our technology, India can leapfrog into an information-driven future without assuming the costs and experiencing the difficulties of first implementing a conventional energy grid. This deal sets a significant precedent for shaping India’s energy future.

—Henri Winand

India is one of the fastest growing telecommunications markets, with more than 10 million new subscribers added each month, according to GSMA (Groupe Speciale Mobile Association). This growing demand for telecom services is also driving increased energy consumption in India—a challenge given the poor quality of the country’s electrical grid.

According to a KPMG report, approximately 300,000 telecom towers in India (about 70%) face electrical grid outages in excess of 8-hours on a daily basis, leaving nearly half of the country’s 935 million mobile phone users frequently disconnected for extended periods. As a result, telecom network operators have been relying on diesel generators and lead-acid batteries to provide backup power, resulting in the consumption of more than 475 million gallons (1.8 billion liters) of diesel fuel annually, with the attendant negative greenhouse gas and criteria pollutant impacts.

This deal demonstrates India’s long-term commitment to fuel-cells and builds on its recently announced deployment of hydrogen fuel cells on telecom towers. India’s Department of Telecommunications has mandated that tower companies reduce the dependence on diesel generators by powering at least 50% of rural towers and 20% of urban towers with clean energy systems.

In April, Ballard Power Systems received a purchase order from Reliance Jio Infocomm Limited (RJIL) for 100 ElectraGe-ME fuel cell backup power systems to be deployed in its wireless telecom network in India. Shipment of these initial 100 systems is expected to be completed this year.

Intelligent Energy in India. IE’s first deployed fuel cell system went into service in July 2011 in Haryana—a 3.5-hour drive by road from Delhi. The diesel generator was removed from the site, and replaced with a hydrogen fuel cell system coupled to the DC bus bar in parallel with the battery bank.

When the grid fails and the DC bus bar voltage drops to a predetermined level, the fuel cell power system starts automatically. The fuel cell system features a two-module hydrogen storage system. The first module contains 16 cylinders, each containing 9.5 m3 of hydrogen. A second 8-cylinder module for stand-by capacity is also included. One cylinder runs for 6 hours at this site; H2is replenished once every 8 days.

The fuel cell system has provided 100% uptime at the site since installation. The system performed well through the summer with temperatures as high as 46 ˚C (115 ˚F) and as low as 3 ˚C (37 ˚F). The longest grid outage was 96 hours; the system supported the site by runing continuously. On average, the fuel cell system runs 12 hours and is subject to 20 random start/stop cycles every day.

Prior to installation, the diesel generator used 438L of diesel a month, resulting in 1170kg of CO2 emissions. On average, 42.2 kg of hydrogen is used a month, resulting in operational savings of 15%.

IE’s power system for telecom towers has been designed for modularity and scalability—based on the 305 fuel cell system, it is available in 2.50kW, 3.75kW, 5.00kW, 6.25kW & 7.50kW configurations. All are packaged the same way for economy and ease of use.

Top: The rack-mounted 305 fuel cell system. Bottom: Telecom tower systems. Click to enlarge.

GTL is part of India’s Global Group, and offers services and solutions for telecom operators, technology providers (OEMs) and tower companies.



Mobile phones, aviation communication-navigation-radar sites, hospitals, computer rooms, control rooms and other critical installations require energy back-up supplies to ensure 24/7 reliability.

Batteries + polluting diesel generators are used in most cases. There are a few million in current operations.

The noisy polluting diesel generators could be replaced in most places with clean, quiet, all weather FCs.

A hand to India to push ahead with early conversion. Other countries should/will follow.

Henry Gibson

In a way, Volkswagen demonstrated that diesel engines can be operated very cleanly when not forced by the owners to give highest performance. The use of Durathon, Zebra or other large capacity batteries in Cell Phone tower power supplies can reduce the use of fuel substantially. Durathon and Zebra batteries have a very long life of over ten years maintenance free, and can be used in high temperatures with simple blasts of even hot air for cooling.

It is obvious that the use of the similar jet fuel will never be eliminated in the lifespan of anyone now living and is now being being used in single engine personal aircraft piston engines for fuel saving and cost saving. Diesel fuel produces less CO2 in its production and is more well to electric efficient than other liquid fuels from refineries.

Like lamp paraffin(kerosene) once was, Jet fuel is now the most universal liquid energy supply throughout the world, and it is only the because wealthy countries and people are willing to pay extortionate prices for it that it is so high priced. It can be made for less than one dollar a gallon from coal and even less now from natural gas. For piston engines DME, Dimethylether, can be used for cleaner burning from tanks containing the liquid under pressure.

One pound of thorium can produce 10000000, ten million kilowatt hours of heat energy and displace the use of three million pounds of coal for those who insist upon the reduction of the releases of CO2. India can invent new types of power sources and grids to spread this electrical energy throughout the country even with inefficiencies at points where three pounds of thorium might need to be used. Plastic insulated sodium conductors have already been created and used as far cheaper conductors than copper or aluminum and far more resistant to theft.

All coal and gas fired power plants can be eliminated when thorium power is adopted. Two units of 600 kW can be built and started in under five years. Two, full power, prototypes are now starting to test thorium. Thorium use not only eliminates the use of fossil fuel for power generation but allows it to be used in many other processes now using fossil fuels including the capturing and sequestering of CO2.

The Jet engine power sources from Bladon Jets are likely to be cheaper to buy and operate with batteries than the fuel cells and can be made to be more well to kilowatt-hour efficient. There is no cheaper source of hydrogen than natural gas or coal. ..HG..


Energy amplifiers, thorium and/or uranium reactors, fusion reactors could all be excellent energy generators if initial cost, time to build and general public acceptance could be improved.

It is a very tall order and it is unsure if they can compete against future much lower cost Solar and Wind energy sources for another 50 years or so.

By that time (2065 or long before) Solar energy will be captured and stored in huge quantities for 24/7 usage at much lower cost?


Yuma, Arizona USA with an average sunshine of 11 hours/day could be (with many other similar places) an excellent place for very large Solar power plants.

Existing large and small roofs equipped with high performance panels could supply all the energy required by residents/occupants.

Recently, 17 large energy neutral buildings were built in our area. Applied for private homes, surplus solar energy could supply most of the energy required for 1 or 2 family BEVs.

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