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Ballard to deploy extra fuel cell systems in Digicel telecom network in Jamaica

Canadian-based Ballard Power Systems has received an order from its Caribbean distributor, Precision Power & Air (PP&A), for 13 ElectraGen™-ME fuel cell backup power systems to be deployed in the Digicel mobile phone network in Jamaica.

This is the second tranche of Ballard methanol-fueled systems ordered for Digicel, which will make it 25 fuel cell systems deployed at critical sites around Jamaica. The original systems have been successfully operating in Digicel’s network for more than two years.

PP&A is responsible for deployment as well as ongoing servicing and fueling of the fuel cell systems in Digicel’s Jamaica network. Digicel has over 14 million customers across its 32 markets in the Caribbean, Central America, and Asia-Pacific regions.

Rooftop installations

The majority of these newly ordered backup power systems will be sited at rooftop base station locations. ElectraGen-ME systems are particularly well suited for rooftop deployment because of their small footprint, quiet operation, light weight, and very low emissions.

‘There are inherent challenges with incumbent backup power technologies on rooftops,’ says Larry Stapleton, VP of sales at Ballard. ‘Our methanol-fueled systems offer a practical solution to address those challenges and deliver meaningful value to telecom operators globally.’

Caribbean (un)reliability

When these 13 additional systems are deployed, Ballard will have 161 ElectraGen-ME methanol-fueled systems operating in the Caribbean – in Puerto Rico, Jamaica, the Bahamas, St Lucia, Turks & Caicos, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Montserrat, as well as Trinidad and Tobago.

This region is particularly susceptible to power disruptions due to extreme weather conditions, including hurricanes. As a result, telecom networks are vulnerable to frequent grid outages which impact continuity of service to subscribers. This reality puts a priority on the need for extended duration backup power solutions.

Ballard’s ElectraGen-ME methanol-fueled systems provide extended runtime backup power with a high degree of reliability, long product life, and minimal preventive maintenance requirements. The system includes a reformer that converts the HydroPlus™ methanol-water liquid fuel mixture into hydrogen gas to power the fuel cell.

Case studies in East Timor and Denmark

Meanwhile, Ballard has released two case studies that demonstrate the benefits of ElectraGen telecom backup power solutions in very different geographies.

For example, the ElectraGen-ME methanol-fueled fuel cell system is providing extended duration backup power, as well as continuous power, as part of a new wireless communications network in East Timor. Challenges faced with this deployment include a hot tropical climate, jungle-covered terrain, and a lack of road infrastructure in many sites.

The ElectraGen-H2 direct hydrogen fuel cell backup power systems have also been successfully operating at approximately 120 base station sites as part of the Danish Tetra (Terrestrial Trunked Radio) SINE emergency radio network. These systems have proven reliable for more than five years, with an estimated 4000 startups.

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Energy efficiency  •  Energy storage including Fuel cells