Are Bloom Boxes our ‘Green Energy’ Solution?

Bloom Energy unveiled the “Bloom Box” last week, also called the Bloom Energy Server. The box is around the size of a parking space, and each one can power a 30,000 sq. foot office building, or 100 average US homes. Ebay and Google have already been using this technology to power some of their buildings and servers, and several other companies, such as Coca-Cola, Walmart, and Staples have also announced partnership with Bloom. At their press conference, Arnold Swarzenegger and Colin Powell spoke, as well as the CEO’s of several of the companies partnering with Bloom.

Bloom Energy's "How it works" graphic

The really cool thing about these boxes is that they don’t have to be so big. Their power comes from 25kw fuel cells, which are combined to form a 1kw stack. This stack can power a full house, and is smaller than a toaster. Stacks can be added together to form a 25kw module, and 4 of those can be added together to create 1 100kw energy server. Imagine paying a one-time fee for energy, and not ever having to worry about the grid going down. Currently the price is a little too high to be extremely attractive, with estimates for a Stack sitting around $3000, and a server at $700-800,000. Bloom says that after a 3-5 year period, the price will be paid back, assuming a fixed energy cost.

The CEO of Bloom Energy puts the life of the boxes at around 10 years, but the CEO of eBay has stated that since installing the boxes late last year, they have saved $100,000 in electricity bills. At this point that puts the boxes in a good position for large businesses, but the price is still high for everyone else. Like everything though, it can be expected to go down in the near future, as the power output goes up. Read more about the Server at its Wikipedia entry, and tell me what you think. Are Bloom Boxes going to be as big a deal as people think they’ll be?

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