Can Bloom's Energy Server be used in Data Centers?

Today is a beautiful morning, getting up early for an East Coast phone call. I got the following view.


With a view of Mt Rainer on a clear cold morning in Redmond.


Mt Rainier is here in above picture.


Thinking about a Low Carbon Data Center, fuel cells as a potential source.  It's been a while since Bloom Energy made its debut at eBay's campus showing fuel cells used in the office environment.


"eBay believes in the power of our business model to make a real difference in the world, and that includes how we embrace innovation to reduce our carbon footprint. When Bloom came to us, it was an easy decision to become an early-adopter of their cutting-edge new technology. As a result, we're meeting financial and environmental goals with the project while fueling a more energy efficient global marketplace. That's good for us, our customers and the planet."
– John Donahoe, CEO


Bloom Installation

June 2009
San Jose, CA


eBay Inc sought a cost effective, 24/7 solution that delivered 100% renewable energy, allowing them to meet both financial and environmental goals.

When I went up to Bloom Energy's site I found the mention of data centers.

DC Power: Bloom systems natively produce DC power, which provides an elegant solution to efficiently power DC data centers and/or be the plug-and-play provider for DC charging stations for electric vehicles.

Also, Bloom Energy Server can be used with intermittent renewable energy to generate hydrogen to later be used in the fuel cells.

Hydrogen Production: Bloom's technology, with its NASA roots, can be used to generate electricity and hydrogen. Coupled with intermittent renewable resources like solar or wind, Bloom’s future systems will produce and store hydrogen to enable a 24 hour renewable solution and provide a distributed hydrogen fueling infrastructure for hydrogen powered vehicles.

Fuel cells aren't up to the high availability for data center power generation which can be addressed with reverse backup.  This could make sense for areas with power prices above $0.10 kw/hr as cost reduction.

Reverse Backup: Businesses often purchase generators and other expensive backup applications that sit idle 99% of the time, while they purchase their electricity from the grid as their primary source. The Bloom solution allows customers to flip that paradigm, by using the Energy Server as their primary power, and only purchasing electricity from the grid to supplement the output when necessary. Increased asset utilization leads to dramatically improved ROI for Bloom Energy's customers.

One fact I hadn't seen is the ease of carbon sequestration.

Carbon Sequestration: The electrochemical reaction occurring within Bloom Energy systems generates electricity, heat, some H2O, and pure CO2. Traditionally, the most costly aspect of carbon sequestration is separating the CO2 from the other effluents. The pure CO2 emission allows for easy and cost-effective carbon sequestration from the Bloom systems.

How long will it be before a data center is powered by fuel cells? A friend offered to make some introductions at Bloom Energy, I think it is time to take him up on his offer and discuss some projects I know of that could use a fuel cell solution.