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.