General Electric Bets Big On Battery Energy Storage Systems


GE Durathon E620 Battery and DC Systems

GE Durathon E620 Battery and DC Systems

GE Energy Storage

GE Energy Storage

General Electric sometimes overshoots, which we saw when the company boldly announced the largest ever order of electric cars.

GE also didn’t have luck with their energy storage systems, despite over 50 MWh of installed capacity in 25 countries.

Earlier this year, GE terminated the development of its in-house molten salt batteries Durathon used in ESS, and laid off most researchers who worked on that project.

“Earlier this year, it scaled back production of its own Durathon industrial batteries, reducing its manufacturing workforce from 200 to 50 at the Schenectady, New York plant where the battery is made. The company is focused on improving Durathon’s longevity, including managing its chemical degradation.”

But GE intends to get back into the game and is expecting the ESS market to expand four times to $6 billion by 2020.

Jeff Wyatt, GE’s general manager for energy storage, said:

“We believe in the space and its ability to grow. We think we can be a sizable player within it, and that’s really what we’re intending to do.”

The new strategy includes the concept of using lithium-ion batteries supplied by other companies. Since April, GE secured two deals related to lithium-ion ESS in California and Ontario, Canada.

Having different batteries to choose from, GE will offer complete ESS including energy storage, inverters and other elements.

Source: Reuters

Category: General

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20 responses to "General Electric Bets Big On Battery Energy Storage Systems"
  1. Anon says:

    Kind of a no-brainer at this point. Might as well finally join everyone else in the 21st Century…

  2. GeorgeS says:

    GE is no stranger in the energy sector. and this move by GE just validates Tesla’s new power pack design.

    GE has some very fine wind turbines and their NGCC combined cycle plants hit 60% efficiency.

  3. Craig Capurso says:

    The only thing that makes sense right now is pump hydro for grid level storage.

    1. Lou Grinzo says:

      According to Wikipedia, the round-trip efficiency of pumped hydro is 70 to 80%, while the charge/discharge efficiency of Li-ion batteries is 80 to 90%.

      So I think it’s a bit of a stretch to say pumped hydro is “the only thing that makes sense right now”.

      1. mr. M says:

        Efficiency doesnt matter, what matters is price per kWh stored. Everyone will choose the cheapest solution!

        1. Kaiser says:


          Efficiency matters, but only as it effects costs. Most posters here can’t think on their own, and parrot propaganda spread by Elon Because batteries aren’t competitive in total cost of ownership he uses the efficiency argument. This kind of selective disclosure is disingenuous and dangerous to humanity.

          1. LusTuCCC says:

            Price is dropping very fast! You will be surprised…

          2. Mister G says:

            Musk is not dangerous to humanity…what is dangerous to humanity is cheap dirty fossil fuel sources of energy production. Would you drink “free” dirty water or expensive”treated” water?

      2. subspace says:

        For mass-storage, it seems pretty obvious that pump-up hydro is a much more feasible solution than chemical batteries, simply for sheer capacity. I will give you one example. Take the Grande Dixence dam in the alps. It stores up to 400’000’000m3 of water. That water is processed by various hydro plants down in the valleys. Say the average drop is around 1000m. How many MWh is stored in that water? I get a around 1 Million MWh if you emptied the reservoir completely.

        Maybe you double check these numbers, I may be off by one or two magnitudes – but it really doesn’t matter. How many batteries would you need to store this much energy?

    2. mr. M says:

      If you assume that batteries are cheaper buy a factor 2 in 5 years it realy makes sense to wait for cheaper batteries.

    3. mustang_sallad says:

      What do you mean by “grid-level”? The grid includes 1GW generation stations, 10MW substations, and 100kW distribution transformers. Storage can address capacity constraints at any of those levels. Pumped hydro isn’t very appropriate for many of the smaller, more distributed applications.

    4. Nick says:

      Pumped hydro math:

      tl;dr it won’t get you there.

      1. Bill Howland says:

        Well, the article is an interesting thought exercise, as he goes to some decent lengths to say ‘WE’ need 336 billion kwh of energy storage (he includes alot of thermal energy in that requirement).

        I say, practically, this is *not* required, mainly since we *DON’T* have 336 billion kwh of energy storage right now, and civilization hasn’t crumbled – if civilization is to crumble it won’t be because of the lack of energy storage.

        As a household example of this, tieing this into to electrically operated equipment that was formerly only gasoline powered, I could take my lawnmower and Volt as prime examples.

        1). My lawnmower cuts around 3200 sq ft of lawn – and requires about 750 wh from the wall outlet to recharge back to a full battery (so at current rates of 10 1/3 cents per kwh), fully cutting my lawn costs me 8 cents of electricity. This compares to around $1.00 with the gas lawn mower since it took roughly 1/3 of a 4 quart gallon.

        Now why the unbelievable savings? (over 12 fold)? My lawnmower basically runs stone cold, (other than the small motor getting incredibly hot) whereas the gas lawnmower dissipated incredible amounts of heat.

        Same with my volt. I can go roughly 45 miles (sans air conditioning) for around $1.20. A Cruze I rented recently under the same conditions would require about $4.00 in gas, and thats with gas at $2.75 a 4 qt gallon.

        2). Now is the volt that much more ‘thermally’ efficient when running solely on electricity? No, for when I park it in my garage there is no residual heat anywhere. It being able to run for 1/3 the cost of already dirt cheap gasoline is simply due to the fact that it only generates a miniscule amount of heat, which is unneeded in the spring or fall anyway.

        So likewise, efficient use of electric products cause an intrinsic benefit that is not being considered. Like the conversion of incandescent lights to CFL’s and LED’s, most of America is consuming far less energy than we formerly did. Most people assume charging an EV, as for instance my Volt at night, is going to ‘harm’ the ‘grid’.

        To the contrary it will help it, since traditionally there isn’t much nightime load in America anyway (We only have a small amount of electric heat or hot water, as opposed to say, France), and the amount of extra electricity needed to propel Volts will be less than the overall savings of efficient light bulbs compared to the traditional. Besides, charging mainly overnight is Extremely Grid Friendly, and greatly benefits the serving utility, since the increased loading of baseload plants prevents premature wear due to the reduction of thermal shock. Baseload plants last the longest if they are not forced to constantly ramp up and down their output.

        1. Phr3d says:

          RE heat energy: and it’s Always been this way, as the concept -containing explosions in multiple, alternating cylinders, rotating the captured power and routing it through a comically complex series of 90º turns and gears and containing-routing the explosion’s excrement so as not to asphyxiate the owner- was pretty damned crazy to begin with, when compared to the electric motor.

          ahhh, cheap oil and marketing, the wonders of the early 20th century.. without it, I’m damned if I can begin to understand the initial attraction of a horseless carriage that was so Loud and smokey

          1. Bill Howland says:

            Sorry, I’ve tried to broach the subject of a ‘Prime Mover’ here several times and it falls on deaf ears, even with Ted Dillard, goes completely over his head.

            Let me try one last time since people seem to understand Hydrogen efficiency comparisons aren’t for real since there is some work involved getting the hydrogen bottled.

            Same with electricity. Motor efficiency is an irrelevancy if you ignore the fact that you just can’t go in your yard and dig up a bottle full of electricity.

            1. Phr3d says:

              maybe not Deaf so much as unable to follow – you definitely lost me, Bill.

        2. Bill Howland says:

          Sorry #2).

          That stuff about “comically complex explosive excrement” is beyond stupidity, really.

          IF its so dumb why are there incentives in all the big cities to REPLACE electric air conditioning run by (er, that means dispose of and not use anymore), motor-driven reciprocating (just a coincidence – doesn’t have anything to do with the co-located reciprocating engine)- or the non-reciprocating centrifugal chiller, and have far lower utility bills plus improved “well to cold” efficiency, when the power plant and distribution inefficiencies are factored in. When jacket heat recovery (cooling water, cooling oil, and exhaust gas cooling) are included (Car washes, Hotels, Hospitals, Large Restaurants, Large Office buildings, apartments all can use/store the hot water manufactured for later use) there is simply no comparison to who wins the efficiency game.

          1. Phr3d says:

            “is beyond stupidity, really.”

            Sorry you missed the humor, My reference was that gasoline-powered engines waste a lot of energy making useless heat, and what the original appeal could have been in the 19-oughts.

            Do you ever even consider the effect of being blatantly offensive to real people?

            to paraphrase a favorite line from Becker:
            If I get one word out of order or fail to understand his point in chatting with Dr. Bill, the Bug up his @ss will grab the stick up his @ss and beat me with it.

            1. Djoni says:

              The demonstration of the thermal inneficiency of ICE engine was pretty clear to me.
              ICE are oven that poorly convert some heat in movement.
              Any other application of the reciprocating piston, especially in comprressing gas, is obviously diffent.
              You’r powering the piston to do something it’s good at, you ain’t trying to poorly use the piston to power something.
              At least, that’s what I hear trough my deafhear brain!

      2. ModernMarvelFan says:

        “Pumped hydro math:

        Sure, 336E9 kWh certainly can’t be satisfied with pumped hydro.

        But even if we have battery price at $100/kWh, do you think 33.6 Trillion price tag is acceptable as well?

        Maybe for less price than both ideas, I would just build few of those natural gas plants as “backup”…

        Sort like driving a Volt is cheaper than Tesla while still giving you mostly “green” power most of the time since the initial cost is so much lower.

        Also, with battery backup, you would have to discharge the system periodically to keep the battery system going since we all know that keep them fully charged for backups aren’t a good idea for longivity.

        So, you would potentially have to increase the battery system cost by another 20% for the 80% capacity derating…