Reliance Jio orders Backup Systems from Ballard Power Systems

For its much awaited 4G telecom service, the telecom venture of Reliance Industries, Reliance Jio Infocomm Limited will be buying 100 ElectraGen-ME fuel cell backup power systems from Ballard Power Systems. An order for the same has been given. The Mukesh Ambani-led company will be utilizing these power systems in its wireless network that is to be launched across the country.

Reliance Jio’s order to Ballard Power Systems

Reliance Jio has given the order after successfully conducting trials, for a year, of fuel cell systems from different vendors. It is the part of a series of planned deployments in Reliance Jio’s national network.Ballard Power Systems informed that the first 100 systems will be shipped this year.

Reliance Jio is the only company in the country to have pan-India broadband wireless access (BWA) license. This enables the company to launch its service in any part of the country. It is thus planning to establish a new 4G telecom network. For such an establishment, hundreds of new base station towers need to be acquired.

With the roll out of Reliance Jio’s telecom service, an environment of stiff competition will created. This will let to the fall inprices of telecom services.

Steve Karaffa, Chief Commercial Officer of Ballard said, “This is an important commercial milestone for our telecom backup power growth strategy in a major emerging market. Based on the performance and value demonstrated by our systems throughout the trial, we are now advancing to extensive commercial deployments with a major telecom service provider.”

Reliance Jio’s order to Saft

A few days back, Reliance Jio also ordered for Evolion lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery systems from Paris’s company, Saft. This order costs them 7 million euros. The systems will support the next phase of its 4G launch program.After successful orders of last 2 years for Evolion systems from Saft, the new order has been placed. The earlier order was worth 50 million euros.

The batteries from Saft are installed in more than 16,000 4G Base Transceiver Station (BTS) sites across the country. They give backed up power whenever there is a power failure. This ensures that Reliance Jio’s mobile network will always be available.

These batteries occupy half the space than the traditional batteries. Their weight is also 25% of the older ones. Moreover, the batteries operate at extreme temperatures ranging from -40 degree Celsius to 75 degree Celsius.

Need for backup systems

A report from Klynveld Peat Marwick Goerdeler (KPMG) said that around 30,000 telecom towers across the country deal with more than 8 hours of electrical grid failures daily. To overcome this, telecom companies use diesel generators or lead-acid batteries for backing up power. These consume over 475 million gallons (1.8 billion litres) of diesel fuel every year and aggravate the greenhouse gas consequences.

There is thus, a great need for cost-effective and reliable backup power system that support for long hours. Ballard feels that ElectraGen-ME fuel cell system will serve the purpose.

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