GE will expand its new, advanced manufacturing battery factory, which is part of the company's new Energy Storage business. The new Durathon battery products, which are half the size of conventional lead acid batteries but last ten times longer, are the result of GE's $100 million initial investment in battery technology developed at GE's Global Research Center in nearby Niskayuna, NY. The breakthrough technology will provide reliable and cost-effective energy storage options for a broad range of GE customers globally, including telecom and utility operators.
GE said that it will invest an additional $70 million to expand the Schenectady plant, effectively doubling production and adding 100 new jobs, which will bring the total factory workforce to 450 when at full capacity.
GE Chairman & CEO Jeff Immelt said, "Just a few years ago, researchers in our labs invented a new battery, one that was simple in its ingredients but advanced in its design and science, containing more than 30 patents. It soon became obvious that we weren't just making a new battery; we were building a new business, so GE teams went to work designing an advanced manufacturing process to build the battery efficiently and a go-to-market strategy to ensure it can reach customers where they work."
Immelt said. "GE Energy Storage was born in New York's Capital Region from an idea that we turned into an advanced manufacturing plant and a global business that we expect will generate more than $1 billion in revenue annually in just a few years. We'll continue to expand the business into new areas beyond telecommunications to build the next generation of energy-efficient buses, locomotives and mining vehicles around the world."
Megatron Federal, an engineering company with products and services in power generation, transmission, distribution, construction and telecommunications based in Johannesburg, South Africa, has signed a purchase agreement for 6,000 batteries, which will be delivered in 2013. These batteries will ensure the continuous operation of telecom installations in Nigeria, and enable the customer to lower fuel consumption and emissions of the diesel generator powered telecom towers by up to 50 percent.
Brandon Harcus, division manager telecommunications, Megatron Federal said, "The breakthrough batteries from GE - a next-generation energy storage system - will ensure uninterrupted service of telecoms installations in Nigeria and for our customers in emerging markets."
The battery plant has received support from state and local government in New York, where GE has done business for 130 years. New York State committed $15 million when the new plant was announced in May 2009, and $5 million was committed by Schenectady County's Metroplex Development Authority.
Innovative Batteries at Work
The Durathon batteries are the result of GE's unprecedented investment in research and development that has helped GE introduce more new products than at any time in its history. The batteries are produced using abundantly available raw materials such as salt and nickel and are non-toxic and fully recyclable. The batteries can operate at temperatures ranging from minus 4° Fahrenheit to 140° Fahrenheit. The batteries have received GE's ecomagination certification from a third party for their environmental and financial benefits.
The new battery plant is about the size of four football fields. Its projected annual production capacity is approximately one Giga-watt hour (GWh), enough energy to power 1,000 typical American homes for one month.
GE Transportation President & CEO Lorenzo Simonelli said, "GE's innovative Durathon battery highlights our ongoing leadership in technology. We bring a state-of-the-art energy storage system to customers around the globe and lay the foundation for hybrid applications in the rail, mining, and marine industries."