Bloom Energy Continues to Add New Customers

A University, a Transit System, and Maybe Even Microsoft


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By Brianna Panzica
Friday, September 21st, 2012

Perhaps you are one of the many investors still persistently watching any news at all on Bloom Energy in anticipation of an IPO.

No, the news still hasn't appeared. In fact, the company itself hasn't issued a press release in several months.

But that doesn't mean it's slowed down its path of success.

Bloom Energy continues to supply major facilities and big companies with its desirable Bloom Energy Servers, or Bloom Boxes.

Bloom's first commercial Energy Servers, which shipped in 2008 and were supplied to Google (NASDAQ: GOOG), had a 100kW capacity. Now, the products have been revamped to provide a capacity of 200kW.

The solid oxide fuel cells contained in the servers are made from inexpensive ceramic materials rather than high-priced precious metals. Perhaps most attractively, they also offer fuel flexibility – they can support fossil fuels (like natural gas) or renewable fuels.

And recently, a number of facilities have taken on Bloom Energy projects for cleaner and more localized power.

The University of California Santa Barbara announced its new 200kW Bloom Energy Server, which is connected to Southern California Edison's electric distribution system, to power part of the campus.

From Phys.org:

“UC Santa Barbara is a leader in advanced energy efficiency research,” said David McHale, associate director of Utility and Energy Services in Facilities Management. “Developing next-generation materials and technologies that will power our future is a point of pride for UCSB, and the partnership with Southern California Edison and Bloom Energy to install a 200-kilowatt fuel cell on campus provides an opportunity to evaluate an emerging power generation technology.”

UCSB's server will likely produce 1.75 million kilowatt hours every year at its 24/7 operating rate – enough to power 160 homes.

The system will reduce carbon emissions by about thirty percent.

Also in California, the Santa Clara County Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) has announced it will receive federal funding of $750,000 for a Bloom Energy fuel cell facility.

The facility would consist of two of Bloom's 200kW servers and is expected to cost somewhere around $4 million.

VTA will enter a 20-year Purchase Power Agreement with Bloom so that the company will own and maintain the systems.

The project is still pending approval by the VTA Board of Directors in November. VTA hopes this project will further its steps to make its system of two rail lines and 450 buses “green”.

From Silicon Beat:

“A clean, affordable transit system is vital to our local economy and environment,” said Rep. Anna G. Eshoo (D-Palo Alto). “This funding will help reduce VTA bus emissions in a cost effective way by using new, cutting-edge fuel cell technology, developed right here in California's 14th Congressional District. A green economy is a healthy economy.”

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And we're also keeping an eye on Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT), which may join the list of Bloom customers soon.

Last week, GigaOm reported, Microsoft's Utility Architect Brian Janous posted a blog about how the company is interested in alternative power option.

He wrote:

“We are currently exploring alternative backup energy options that would allow us to provide emergency power without the need for diesel generators, which in some cases will mean transitioning to cleaner-burning natural gas and in other cases, eliminating the need for back-up generation altogether.”

Bloom Energy Servers could provide this alternative. They use natural gas and provide on-site generation – possibly eliminating the need for back-up generation.

A number of tech companies have already teamed up with Bloom for this sort of alternative generation, including eBay (NASDAQ: EBAY), Google, AT&T (NYSE: T), and Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL).

So it wouldn't be that surprising to see Microsoft jump on the bandwagon.

We'll keep you updated as things continue to develop with Bloom.

That's all for now,

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Brianna Panzica

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Energy & Capital's modern energy guru, Brianna digs deep into the industry with accurate and insightful updates into the biggest energy companies and events. She stays up to date with the latest market moves and industry finds, bringing readers a unique view of current energy trends. For more on Brianna, see her editor's page.


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