Nanophosphate EXT and the Expanded Opportunity for Telecomm Backup
As we’ve discussed previously, the growing global telecommunications industry represents a potentially significant opportunity for advanced lithium ion battery systems, especially in emerging markets such as India, Africa and Southeast Asia, where an estimated 300,000 new cell tower sites are being built each year.
About 75,000 of these are built off-grid, and many of the others are located in areas that often experience grid instability, resulting in long periods of time without grid power. As a result, operators deploy a battery backup system (typically with valve-regulated lead acid (VRLA)) along with diesel generator.
This creates a challenge because VRLA batteries have slow charge times and limited cycle life (which is even shortened by repeated cycling)—the charge time required for VRLA batteries is often 10 hours or longer, forcing the diesel generator to operate during most of the day. Further, lead acid systems in many instances need to be replaced about every 18-24 months, which burdens operators with high recurring replacement and maintenance costs.
Conversely, A123’s advanced lithium ion battery systems last up to five times longer than VRLA, requiring fewer (or no) replacements over the life of the system, and they charge more quickly, which translates to increased battery availability and reduced reliance on diesel generators. Increasing fuel savings and reducing maintenance costs result is a lower total cost of ownership (TCO) for telecommunications backup applications on the order of 60-70 percent as compared to VRLA.
A123’s newly launched Nanophosphate EXT™ lithium ion battery technology augments these advantages by minimizing or altogether eliminating the need for air conditioning or heating at cell towers in extreme temperature environments. In higher-temperature climates, for example, the air conditioning necessary to properly cool the lead acid batteries can represent up to 50 percent of the total power consumed at each cell tower site. While the cost of this cooling increases the TCO of the VRLA batteries, it is necessary to avoid even further shortening the limited life cycle of VRLA.
The high reliability, fast charge times, long life and ability to significantly reduce or eliminate heating or cooling systems makes Nanophosphate EXT ideally suited for telecomm towers built in extreme temperature environments and/or in remote locations. A123 believes that Nanophosphate EXT has the potential to significantly expand the global addressable market for its telecommunications backup solutions to more than $1.2 billion by 2016.