Backing up Asian towers: EnerSys®’ sophisticated battery solutions

Supporting the rapidly evolving tower industry with bespoke backup solutions

Read this article to learn:

  • EnerSys®’ offerings for global and Asian tower owners
  • How the Asian backup power market differs from the rest of the world
  • Backup power considerations for on-grid, unreliable grid and off-grid
  • Case study demonstrating TCO savings up to 55%

With operating costs becoming a key issue for tower owners, choosing the right backup power solution is an increasingly important task. With variables in location, climate, budget, maintenance and deployment, choosing the right battery and cooling options to keep the total cost of ownership (TCO) to a minimum can be tricky. EnerSys® talk us through their experiences in the Asian market and how they work with customers to choose the most efficient solutions to meet their requirements.

TowerXchange: Please introduce EnerSys®, your footprint and your offering to the Asian market.

Cheng Heng Hong, Vice President Sales & Marketing, Asia, EnerSys®:

We are the global leader in stored energy solutions for industrial applications. We manufacture and distribute reserve power and motive power batteries, battery chargers, power equipment, battery accessories and outdoor equipment enclosure solutions to customers worldwide.

EnerSys® offers an extensive portfolio of premium flooded and sealed batteries to serve the telecom industry. This portfolio of batteries offers design features such as exceptional performance, long life, compact footprint, high energy density, and ease of installation. Our batteries are ideally suited for a wide range of wireline and wireless telecom applications, including central office and outside plant. We also offer outdoor equipment enclosure solutions.

In Asia, EnerSys® has a comprehensive infrastructure with a company presence in seven countries and 18 local offices for sales, applications and logistic support.

TowerXchange: How does your experience in Asia differ from the other markets you operate in?

Cheng Heng Hong, Vice President Sales & Marketing, Asia, EnerSys®:

The European and North American markets are very established and have relatively reliable power. In Asia, of course it is very different and we see a wide variation in the operating conditions and power reliability across the region. This in turn means we have to develop customised solutions that are uniquely suited to the conditions and requirements of particular customers and geographies.

TowerXchange: What are the considerations that tower owners need to keep in mind when choosing a backup solution in on-grid, unreliable grid or off-grid environments?

Cheng Heng Hong, Vice President Sales & Marketing, Asia, EnerSys®:

Each of the scenarios listed presents their own unique challenges to the backup power system as well as opportunities for cost savings and minimising TCO.

For on-grid systems, the main consideration is typically how to maximise battery life whilst also minimising the power usage on the tower. For this we would typically propose reducing or completing disabling the cooling system and using a backup battery specifically designed for operations at high temperatures. The new EnerSys® SBS XL is ideally suited for this and using our TPPL technology has a life expectancy of ten years at a temperature of 35°C.

On the other hand, off-grid systems have been successfully powered for some time now by a hybrid mix of batteries, diesel generators and increasingly some kind of renewable energy source (solar, wind et cetera). This kind of system brings unique challenges to the battery system and our research has shown that the lowest operating costs can only be achieved by using the full capacity of the batteries on a daily basis to minimise diesel genset runtime. This means the batteries need to have the capability to cycle deeply and recharged quickly – something that our tried and tested SBS EON range has been specifically designed for.

Finally, in unreliable grid environments towers are typically supported by a combination of batteries and diesel gensets. The random reliability of the main system means batteries have little time to recharge from the power grid and that generators need to run every day to either support the tower once the batteries are discharged and/or recharge the batteries themselves.

The key challenge here is therefore how to minimise the runtime of the diesel gensets that are one of the biggest contributors to the tower operating costs – typically far more than the cost of batteries. For this kind of application our new SBS XC range is ideal as it combines an outstanding fast charge capability with the ability to achieve an exceptional number of cycles; the modelling work we have done shows it can give tower owners TCO savings in the range of 30 to 50%.

The most effective TCO savings will depend very much on the site operating conditions and power reliability. However, choosing a battery that is designed for the site conditions can definitely deliver TCO savings to tower owners. The highest savings typically come from reducing the cooling load on the tower or from reducing or even eliminating the runtime on costly diesel generators – and the key enabler to this can be choosing the optimum battery solution.

The highest savings typically come from reducing the cooling load on the tower or from reducing or even eliminating the runtime on costly diesel generators – and the key enabler to this can be choosing the optimum battery solution

TowerXchange: Can you share a case study illustrating how you helped your clients achieve desired outcomes?

Cheng Heng Hong, Vice President Sales & Marketing, Asia, EnerSys®:

Our most recent work has been looking at potential TCO savings for a tower owner in an extremely unreliable grid environment. In this instance, each tower is usually equipped with at least 600Ah of battery back-up, but even that is not enough to cover for the many power outages in an average 24-hour period.

Typically, the batteries are completely discharged within eight to ten hours a day, meaning the diesel generator needs to be run for the remaining 14 to 16 hours of every day. This is obviously bad from an environmental perspective, noisy for the community nearby and of course it involves significant costs related to the fuel, maintenance and service of the genset.

After assessing the application, we realised that the perfect solution would be a battery that has both an outstanding fast charge capability and excellent cycling. We already knew that our TPPL technology had the potential for industry leading charge acceptance, so we decided to optimise its design even further.

Our target was to design a product able to maximise its recharge while the power is on, enabling the battery to be ready for the next outage. If enough recharge current is available, it’s even possible to design a system that relies totally on battery backup on a standard day. The result of this work is our brand new SBS XC range that we have just launched.

Based on the load details that were provided to us by the tower owner, we estimate that TCO savings of up to 55% can be achieved compared to traditional lead acid batteries.

TowerXchange: Looking forward, what do you think will be the power priorities for Asian tower owners as 5G and network densification requirements increase?

Cheng Heng Hong, Vice President Sales & Marketing, Asia, EnerSys®:

The 5G standards are still not agreed, but the evolving infrastructure needs seem to be trending towards a larger number of smaller, but more dense tower sites. We expect this to drive demand for new, innovative power solutions.

TowerXchange: Can you give us some insight into EnerSys®’ vision for the future and how you will fit into this evolving market?

Cheng Heng Hong, Vice President Sales & Marketing, Asia, EnerSys®:

We believe experience in providing power backup in mobile communications is very important. The mobile network has a critical dependence on available power and backup regardless of the reliability of the local grid. EnerSys® is a powerful solution provider and a trusted partner in backup power solutions. Hence we are in a unique position to use our experience and unique technology solutions to help and continually support tower companies to backup their mission critical equipment in the most cost-effective way.

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