Bloom Energy Highlights New Power Plan

Bloom Energy is packaging its fuel-cell energy services in a simple new way – and some XXL-sized corporations appear to like it. Stealing a page from the solar industry, where power purchase agreements have become de rigueur, new “Bloom Electrons” customers don’t have to buy the $700,000-plus Bloom Energy Servers to use them, Bloom said. They simply agree to pay a set price for the power on a 10-year deal while Bloom installs, owns and maintains the big silver boxes.

Bloom formally unveiled the service with a roster of big-name clients – Walmart, Staples, Coca-Cola, Caltech, Kaiser Permanente and BD.

fuel-cell energy provider, Bloom Energy Server, Bloom Energy

image via Bloom Energy

Some of these deals are pretty sizeable. The California Institute of Technology, for example, is in for a 2-megawatt (MW) installation of the 100-kilowatt solid oxide fuel cells. Walmart, meanwhile, has operational Bloom Box deployments of 400kW systems at two Southern California retail locations and is in the process of expanding deployments to additional stores through the new Bloom Electrons service.

And the health-care provider Kaiser said it contracted to buy 4 MWs of fuel-cell power through Bloom Electrons. The fuel cells will run on natural gas. They do have the potential to run on directed biogas – non-fossil methane from landfills or manure – but in the meanwhile Kaiser, which is also dabbling in solar, noted that “Bloom Energy has agreed to supply the utility natural gas network with biogas, to offset greenhouse gas emissions at Kaiser Permanente’s facilities.”

Credit Suisse and Silicon Valley Bank are working with Bloom on the Electrons service, which the company said can immediately save customers up to 20 percent on their energy bills.

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.