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Bloom Energy Announces "Electrons Service" for Fuel Cell Power with No Upfront Fee

The "magical" Bloom Box is now available with no upfront cost. You'll just need to sign a 10-year contract to harness the fuel cell's electricity.

Bloom Energy, not long ago a mysterious player and now the media darling of the fuel cell industry, has some pretty interesting news today. The company, which we've been following ever since its big 60 Minutes reveal, makes the Bloom Box, a freezer-sized structure filled with black and green ceramic discs that takes in oxygen on one side and a fuel like natural gas on the other and churns out electricity.


The Bloom Box also costs about $700,000 upfront, which rules out yours truly as a customer, and also plenty of businesses, large and small.

Which is why the company has announced a new "Bloom Electrons Service" as a sort of financing plan similar to Sungevity, Solar City, and SunRun in the solar sector.

Through Bloom Electrons, power consumers can get the device for free with a 10-year electricity contract, and lock in a set rate for fuel—for now, natural gas from PG&E—for the duration of the contract. The deal still probably doesn't make much sense for homeowners, and is better targeted towards operators of commercial, industrial, and institutional buildings.

It's worth keeping in mind that the Bloom Box isn't the free energy fuel cell of every futurists Utopian dreams. As Gizmodo wrote,

And though it's cleaner than any combustion engine out there, it still relies on fossil fuels and biofuels-not just hydrogen, like some other kinds of fuel cells do.

Again, to be clear, the energy generated isn't emission-free: These servers generate a small amount of CO2 when converting natural gas or bio-gas. It is less than what would get released if the same fuel was combusted, however.

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Even the supposedly cheap operational costs of the Bloom Box have recently been called into question, with one analysis finding that a natural gas generator set would alone operate cheaper. But that hasn't stopped many corporations like FedEx and eBay from being early adopters. We'll stay tuned to see how experiences of these first buyers play out.

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