ET: What is the same or different about Bloom Energy’s oxide fuel cell technology compared to hydrogen fuel cells?
Aaron: Bloom Energy’s particular type of fuel cell technology is different than legacy “hydrogen” fuel cells in four main ways:
- Low cost materials – Bloom Energy cells use a sand-like powder instead of precious metals like platinum or corrosive materials like acids.
- High electrical efficiency – Bloom Energy fuel cells can convert fuel into electricity at nearly twice the rate of some legacy technologies. That means Bloom can produce twice the electricity and half the carbon for the same amount of fuel.
- Fuel flexibility – Bloom’s systems are capable of using either renewable or fossil fuels, allowing customers to optimize their solution for cost, carbon reduction, or both
- Easy– Bloom’s technology is a simple all-electric generator that is easy to install and easy to maintain. Legacy fuel cells typically require combined heat and power (CHP) schemes to make their economics work which adds cost, complexity, and reliability issues.
ET: What’s next on the horizon for Bloom Energy?
Aaron: While Bloom’s vision includes producing units to support residential customers as well as rural areas of the developing world, the initial focus is on serving commercial and industrial customers. The technology is there today, but Bloom feels it is important to focus initially on the markets where it makes the most business sense and where Bloom can continue to mature the technology, service and support capabilities, and drive down costs. Bloom’s goal is to first reach their executional goals and become a profitable business and satisfy stakeholders before pursuing aspirational goals.