General Electric is one of the largest companies in the world. They provide an array of products and services through a broad portfolio of businesses that build, cure, power and move the world. GE’s involvement in energy involves multiple divisions of the company and ranges from conventional technologies such as turbines and oil drilling equipment to renewable technologies such as wind energy and solar power. GE’s Energy Storage subsidiary is actually part of its Transportation business, which is in the Technology Infrastructure division.
The flagship product of GE Energy Storage is the Durathon Battery, a sodium nickel chloride battery with significant applications in both the stationary and motive markets. In 2012, GE held the grand opening of its 220,000-square-foot facility in Schenectady, NY dedicated to the manufacture of Durathon. The facility represents a $170 million investment and will create a total of 450 new jobs and thousands more in the local supply chain when the plant is at full capacity.
GE’s involvement in Durathon originated with a search for improved power sources for hybrid locomotives. GE Global Research identified sodium nickel chloride batteries as the best solution and, in 2007 GE acquired Beta R&D, a UK-based company that had pioneered the development of that technology in the 1980s. GE's Durathon Battery technology is an innovative and advanced industrial battery that is earmarked for a variety of applications in the telecommunications, power generation, grid operation, energy management, and transportation markets.
Durathon Battery technology is based on cells utilizing the chemistry of sodium and nickel. Each cell is hermetically sealed within its own metal case, and is strung together with other cells in a thermally insulated battery module. All Durathon Batteries are managed by the Durathon Battery Management System, which controls and protects the battery and relays information for monitoring the battery’s condition.
“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,” said Prescott Logan, General Manager, GE Energy Storage.
GE is tailoring Durathon products for multiple applications. One is providing reliable and cost-effective power for telecom applications such as improving the fuel efficiency of their diesel generators and to act as a back-up power supply. Durathon battery systems are already the choice for thousands of cellular base stations around the world. Another application is providing energy storage for wind and photovoltaic power plants. More generally, when placed around an electrical transmission or distribution network, Durathon Battery Energy Storage Systems allow operators to manage peak loads more efficiently and effectively by providing modular storage to capture energy at low loads and deliver at times of congestion. In the industrial motive and transportation markets, safety, cycle life and reliability are key drivers. Durathon Battery technology is well suited to harsh environments because of its intrinsic safety features and environmental temperature independence.
Recently, GE announced the first sales of its 2.5-120 wind turbines, which incorporate short-term battery storage as a part of the turbine package. This turbine design integrates Durathon Battery technology into the turbine along with advanced software applications that create an intelligent power system. The system manages wind variability and, by making use of the integrated storage, can provide short-term predictable power while communicating with neighboring turbines, service technicians, and operators.
Apart from these activities of GE Energy Storage, GE Energy is heavily involved with energy storage from the standpoint of developing, implementing and operating electric vehicle charging technology. GE’s line of WattStation and DuraStation products provides high-speed charging capability in residential, commercial and public settings.
GE’s Level II chargers are available to the consumer from retailers such as Home Depot and Lowes. These systems are also increasingly being installed at businesses and other commercial establishments. GE’s Industrial Solutions division along with various partners provides a wide range of capabilities including installation, remote management software, and fleet charging capabilities.
GE has also established its WattStation Connect software platform, which networks participating charging stations and provides access and information to drivers through web-based and mobile applications. Electric vehicle operators can find charging stations, authorize use on them and, when applicable, pay for charging services through mobile apps.
General Electric’s involvement in the energy storage industry is deep and highly diverse. As one of New York’s most visible and powerful companies for over a century, it is no surprise that GE continues to be a leader in one of New York’s most dynamic new industries.