Reducing TCO with A123's Telecom Battery vs. Lead Acid
With the 34th International Telecommunications Energy Conference (INTELEC) taking place in Scottsdale, Ariz. next week, energy efficiency as a critical component to operational success for the global telecom industry will be undoubtedly be a central topic of discussion….and an appropriate time to revisit the opportunity for lithium ion batteries created by the rapidly growing global demand for mobile services.
An estimated 300,000 new cell tower sites are being built each year in India Africa and other emerging markets, about 75,000 of which are built off-grid. To deal with the energy challenges this creates, operators typically deploy a battery backup system (usually 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 solution lasts 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.
Further, 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.
Interestingly, the GSMA Green Power for Mobile Bi-Annual Report from July 2012 contains a summary of the takeaways from a “Voice of the Customer” session hosted by General Electric held earlier this year to determine how MNOs are thinking about OPEX reduction, especially with respect to energy. According to the report:
“Every single participant was focused on reducing OPEX across their networks. Diesel generator-related expenses were by far the largest contributor to members’ OPEX, and included: Fuel costs (where a diesel generator was the prime source of power); Fuel delivery logistics for remote installation sites; Equipment cooling costs (potentially 60% of the total power consumed on-site); and Generator maintenance.”
In addition, while some MNOs “expressed serious concerns about increasing CAPEX” for the deployment of advanced battery technologies as a more energy efficient solution, they generally agreed that TCO is “the right way to evaluate solutions.”
These findings agree with the discussions we are having with mobile network operators globally, and it is clear that a robust, longer-lasting battery solution will be welcome as a means of increasing energy efficiency and reducing TCO. If you are attending INTELEC next week, we encourage you to stop by A123’s booth (#109) to discuss how our solutions might fit your application needs.