GE’s $100M battery plant rises (New York)

You don’t need overhead cranes capable of hoisting 200 tons to build the next generation of industrial-strength batteries.

Powerful, heavy-duty cranes are an example of what General Electric Co. had to remove from a huge building at its Schenectady campus to make way for a new $100 million advanced-battery manufacturing plant now being built.

Architects and engineers call this adaptive reuse—giving new purpose to an old structure.

The Capital Region, once a hub for heavy industry, has an abundance of empty buildings that can be reused and reconfigured for new kinds of manufacturing.

Tackling a job like this is very expensive and complicated—two of the reasons it’s not done very often.

Still, GE certainly isn’t the first in the area to convert an old manufacturing building into a high-tech facility.

In recent years, about 300,000 square feet of the nearly 200-year-old Watervliet Arsenal has been turned into high-tech manufacturing and R&D space.

The Schenectady project is the latest step in GE’s transformation from an old-line manufacturer to one embracing green technologies such as wind power and batteries that can provide uninterrupted back-up electricity for 20 years to cell phone towers, data centers and other facilities.

Last year GE opened its Global Renewable Energy headquarters on the Schenectady campus. An old warehouse was converted into the modern, glass-walled headquarters. The building is kitty-corner from the battery plant.

When it’s finished next year, the plant will be capable of initially producing 1 million advanced battery cells annually. At full capacity, 350 people will work there.

Read the full story in the The Business Review of Albany, N.Y.

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