Global environmental challenges
Is Bloom Energy the next GE?
Updated on Feb 24.
The buzz began Sunday when 60 minutes aired an exclusive profile of the alternative energy fuel cell developed by startup Bloom Energy and its CEO K.R. Sridhar (a former rocket scientist) in Silicon Valley. After eight years in the making, the power plant in a box is set to be released Wednesday with California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and former Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Colin Powell on hand.
“You’ll generate your own electricity with the box and it’ll be wireless. The idea is to one day replace the big power plants and transmission line grid, the way the laptop moved in on the desktop and cell phones supplanted landlines,” reports CNet News.
What makes this claim to the perfect, zero-emission energy source different? For starters, backing from Walmart, eBay, Google, Staples, FedEx, and hundreds of millions of dollars in investments.
And, the World Economic Forum names Bloom Energy as one of 26 top 2010 Technology Pioneers: Energy and Environment.
But the Bloom Box isn’t cheap. The Daily Tech reports: “Well, $700,000 to $800,000 will buy you a ‘corporate sized’ unit… To get a view of the cost and benefits, eBay installed 5 of the boxes nine months ago. It says it has saved $100,000 USD on energy since.”
In the 60 Minutes interview, Sridhar says his goal is for the price to come down to about $3,000 for a U.S. household within a few years.
The hype is not new. Since at least 2006, tech industry watchers have kept an eye on Bloom — which has been working on the fuel cell box for more than 8 years.
60 Minutes also ran this Skeptic’s video.
Is it really too good to be true?
Top image shows K.R. Sridhar (L) speaking with CBS reporter Lesley Stahl on Feb 20, 2010. REUTERS/Handout/CBSNews/60Minutes
Bottom image shows an HD frame grab showing the inside of a Bloom Box that appeared on 60 Minutes, Feb 20, 2010. REUTERS/Handout/CBSNews/60Minutes