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GE receives latest order for next-gen batteries

GE receives latest order for next-gen batteries

Batteries from General Electric’s $100 million manufacturing plant in Schenectady will be used by a

Batteries from General Electric’s $100 million manufacturing plant in Schenectady will be used by a Rochester-based power company.

According to an announcement earlier this week, GE’s new Durathon Batteries will be incorporated into a power-on-demand system from Arista Power, Inc. This is the first major contract publicly announced for the Schenectady plant, which went online in January and sent its first batteries to an undisclosed company in South Africa.

“We’re very pleased that Arista Power has chosen our new Durathon Battery as a key component for its renewable energy power management system,” said GE Energy spokeswoman Christine Horne. “This is yet another step forward in the commercialization of our battery technology produced in Schenectady.”

No information about the timetable, size or value of the contract with Arista is being made public by either company. But Horne did say that every order is significant, regardless of size, when validating a new technology.

The Durathon Battery is next-generation technology, 50 percent smaller and 25 percent lighter than traditional batteries and can with a lifespan up to 20 years. Additionally, it can be used in extreme temperatures, is recyclable and requires very little maintenance.

Arista will use the battery as part of a system designed to reduce energy costs and ensure efficient use of power.

Prescott Logan, general manager of GE Energy Storage Technologies, said in a statement that the company was excited about being chosen as a key component of Arista’s plans. “We feel this combination offers customers clean energy systems that provide an attractive return on investment,” he said.

The Schenectady battery plant, which falls under the umbrella of the company’s transportation division even though the campus is home to GE Energy’s headquarters, began test production last year. In 2011, the company hired 140 workers for the plant, and it is expected to have 300 production workers, with at least another 50 support positions when fully operational in 2015.

Horne noted that the company still anticipates reaching the plant’s maximum production potential in 2015.

Last fall, Logan said the complete development of the plant will require an additional $60 million investment by the company, which spent $100 million transforming a former steam turbine manufacturing facility for battery production. The investment was made in conjunction with a $25.5 million tax credit from the federal stimulus package, $15 million from the state, $5 million from the Metroplex Development Authority and other tax incentives.

Logan had said GE anticipates at least half of the plant’s businesses to come from emerging markets, such as Southeast Asia, China, India and Latin America, where there aren’t reliable electrical grids in all areas.

The company expects to make 1 million batteries this year and 10 million batteries a year once at full capacity, with sales reaching $1 billion after 2015.

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