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September 19, 2012

GE Announces $63 Million in Orders Since July Launch of Breakthrough Battery



General Electric’s Energy Storage division, based in Schenectady, New York, is enjoying both “the power and the glory” this month. The GE unit just announced that it has received $63 million in new orders for its innovative Durathon battery since the product launched in July.

In its first weeks of operation, the business secured ten new telecom customer orders across several regions, including Africa, Asia and North America, powering a total of more than 3,500 cell towers.

The breakthrough battery provides reliable and cost-effective energy storage options. It works by employing environmentally responsible sodium chemistry to capture excess energy from diesel fuel generators. When a generator is off and the battery is fully charged, the battery feeds the stored power back to the cell tower. This hybrid, cyclic charge/discharge operation reduces fuel consumption by up to 40 percent.  It is designed for use in telecom, uninterrupted power supply (UPS) and industrial applications (see video).

Compared to traditional lead acid batteries, GE’s Durathon sodium batteries:

  • Have a longer life,
  • Store more energy per unit weight,
  • Perform better under extreme conditions, and
  • Have minimal maintenance costs.

Prescott Logan, general Manager, GE Energy Storage, commented, “Durathon batteries help solve key challenges for customers in emerging markets, where power outages and cycle disruption are prevalent; [as well as] 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.”

Among the new customers for the Durathon battery is Adrian Group of Companies.  With headquarters in Nairobi, the capital and largest city of Kenya, the ttelecommunications, power, and information and communications technology (ICT) service provider, needed the Durathon to continue providing service to its customers during times when service is down.


Photo courtesy of GE Energy Storage

Adrian’s Group Managing Director Bernard Njoroge noted, “Our main challenge is downtime due to frequent power outages on the grid. 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.”

According to GE, the Durathon battery “can help extend mobile phone service to billions of people worldwide living in remote areas with no accessible power grid” by helping generator-powered cell towers operate more efficiently, while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Without the Durathon, operators often are 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 (CO2) into the atmosphere per year.

Megaton 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 to its order shortly afterward. The company, which offers 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 also will enable Megatron to reduce both fuel consumption and emissions of diesel generator-powered telecom towers by up to 50 percent.

GE Ecomagination Vice President Mark Vachon said, “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.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.”

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.

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Edited by Rich Steeves

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