Bloom Energy had a big week between the airing of its 60 Minutes segment on Sunday and the official unveiling on Wednesday. Thanks to some heavy-duty backers, big name customers and a gift for publicity, the fuel cell firm kicked it off in style. But as the buzz wanes, what kind of market will the Bloom Energy Server face? Will investors recoup the $400 million they fronted to get the venture off the ground?
Below are some choice links and insightful analysis on Bloom Energy and its impact on the cleantech marketplace.
Why Bloom Energy Is & Isn’t the Google of Greentech – Earth2Tech
Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers venture capitalist John Doerr, who led an investment in Bloom Energy and also in search engine giant Google, made the comparison as he took the stage during the launch event on the eBay campus. “This is like the Google IPO,” said Doerr. Presumably, he meant the excitement and anticipation in the room, but also the potential for the type of returns that Bloom could bring to Kleiner.
Bloom box debut: More IPO than CO2 – Fortune Brainstorm Tech Blog
So if Bloom’s magic boxes are still not cost-effective nationwide — if they remain a niche product still in beta testing — why today’s star-studded coming-out party? Sridhar says his customers were so excited by the product they pushed him to unveil his creation now. Though they were clearly jazzed about the chance to brag about their green cred — and moments at yesterday’s event devolved into an orgy of self-congratulation — many observers think Bloom had another motive: To prime the pump to go public.
Doing The Math On Bloom Energy – Forbes
The unsubsidized cost would be 13-14 cents/kWh, with about 9 cents/kWh from the capital costs of the Bloom box and 5 cents/kWh from natural gas costs, according to Lux Research. If natural gas prices rise or fall 50% (gas prices are often volatile), overall price would fluctuate from 11.5-12.5 cents/kWh to 20.5-21.5 cents/kWh. That price is still too high to compete in most markets with retail electricity without subsidy. However, this is the first generation, and if Bloom can bring prices down (and/or natural gas prices are stable/low), there could be a significant market for this fuel cell.
Much-Touted Bloom Fuel Cell Still Too Spendy – Wired.com
In fact, a long-term R&D collaboration between the Department of Energy and multiple solid-oxide fuel-cell manufacturers, the Solid State Energy Conversion Alliance, estimates that fuel cells will need to cost $700 per kilowatt of peak capacity to compete unsubsidized with the grid. Bloom’s product costs 10 times that.
Bloom Energy By the Numbers – Earth2Tech
Carbon reduction: Bloom says that customers can get between a 40 and 100 percent reduction in their carbon footprint as compared with the U.S. grid, depending on if they are using natural gas or renewable methane. Michael Kanellos of GreentechMedia asked Sridhar during the Q&A session for the math on for 1 ton of CO2 emitted how much fuel would be used, and Sridhar didn’t provide an answer.
Video: Q&A With Bloom Energy’s Founder, Next Gen Fuel Cells and More – Greentech Media
There’s an interesting connection between Bloom and Hara, the carbon management software company. Kleiner Perkins invested in both companies and both listed Coca-Cola as a signature client. In fact, Fortune 500 friends played an integral part of the launches of both companies. It gives the companies credibility. However, if Kleiner relies on the same names too much, it may begin to take the sheen off the impact.
…and from yours truly:
Bloom Energy and Data Centers – Perfect Together? (subscription required) – GigaOM Pro
Undoubtedly, many are wondering if a Bloom Energy Server, aka Bloom Box, will satisfy their growing energy needs. Sure, it will help them meet their carbon reduction goals and may even resolve some thorny siting issues, but let’s zero in on two of the factors that matter most to the folks that run data centers: availability and cost.
Have you come across some interesting coverage? Share it in the comments!
Photo Credit: Bloom Energy