After being featured on 60 Minutes, the entire world is abuzz with Bloom Energy once again. Nearly forgotten due to a lack of recent press, the alternative energy company's current spate of publicity is sure to light a fire in water-cooler discussions over the next few months.
Why is it such a big deal? Bloom Energy produces fuel cell boxes that, when combined with an energy source (such as natural gas), can produce usable electricity. See those two boxes founder K.R. Sridhar is holding? They're supposed to be enough to power one U.S. home. Really.
Pffft...anyone can claim to have discovered the secret to turning steel into gold, right? The Bloom Boxes, as the company's fuel cell rigs are called, has one thing going for it: notable businesses have already been using them since 18 months ago.
- Google, their first official customer, have been using four refrigerator-sized boxes to power an entire datacenter for the last year and a half.
- eBay has been using five large boxes to supply 15% of its electricity in their campus too.
- Other companies that are currently using the alternative energy generator include FedEx, Staples and Wal-Mart.
Currently, the large commercial boxes sell for upwards of $700,000. Obviously, though, that's for large, industrial-type consumption (equivalent to an estimated 100 US homes). According to Sridhar, the ones for in-home use as in the picture will likely go for under $3,000 apiece. He projects they will be ready during the next five to ten years.
While reality may derail that timeline a bit (as most people expect), there's an air of excitement about what Bloom Energy just showed. It could really be a very big deal - especially down the line as they further enhance the process. The company is due for a big public unveiling on Wednesday, so expect to hear a lot more about their future plans.