From Stealth Mode to the Future of Energy?
Posted by: JoshuaFurtado on Feb 22, 2010
Category: Industry Innovations
Up until now, Bloom Energy has been in stealth mode, but with their official unveiling only 2 days away and last night's primetime segment on 60 Minutes, the fuel cell company is ready for the world to know their story.
We watched the entire 60 Minutes segment in the office this morning and if what Bloom Energy founder and CEO, K.R. Sridhar, says is true, then they are about to revolutionize the energy space. Obviously, it remains to be seen what kind of an impact they will have considering the technology is based on fuel cell concepts that are 150 years old, but the 20 minute segment definitely got me excited to follow the progress of this company. You can check out the entire 60 Minutes video/segment HERE
Bloom Energy is a producing solid oxide fuel cells utilizing cheap and abundant materials (beach sand, inks & dyes and commoditized metals). The technology is said to be more efficient than solar (estimate: 48% efficiency) and could potentially replace the electric power grid for Bloom Energy customers.
Here are some highlights:
-An individual box (about the size of a rubix cube on steroids) is estimated to be able to power one US home, 2 European homes or 4-6 Asian homes for an estimated cost of $3000. The large Bloom boxes are estimated to be able to power 100 US homes for a cost of $700-800K
-The units are wireless
-They can run on a number of fuels including: natural gas, solar, biofuels, diesel or proprane
-They are well funded, backed by influential investors including John Doerr of Kleiner Perkins and have received about $400 million in funding to date
-They have an impressive customer list including: Google, eBay, Wal-Mart and Staples
-The materials are cheap and abundant
-The Bloom Energy model intends to sell the power through Power Purchase Agreements (PPA's) in addition to selling individual fuel cells.
With game-changing implications come justified skepticism and I think there are certainly questions to ask of Bloom Energy...true carbon footprint, operating cost per kwh, expected life of individual units, etc.? Will other fuel cell companies follow suit? Will the utilities view this as a threat, an opportunity or not even worthy of consideration? There will be more questions to come, but luckily we won't have to wait long for more answers. It seems like the stealth-mode phase for Bloom Energy is coming to an end and I for one will be following this company closely to see if we are dealing with the next Google or the next Segway.