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The Bloom Boxes are expected to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 50 percent, in comparison to the grid

AT&T has partnered with Bloom Energy Corporation to install Bloom Energy Servers, aka Bloom Boxes, throughout California in an effort to provide clean, affordable and reliable power via solid oxide fuel cell technology

The Bloom Boxes, which contain stacked fuel cells and convert air and natural gas into electricity through a electrochemical process, will help power 11 different sites in California. The Bloom Boxes will produce 7.5 megawatts of onsite power, and over 62 million kilowatt-hours of energy annually, which could power 5,600 homes per year. 

"Bloom Energy is excited to be working with AT&T in helping to achieve their corporate sustainability goals," said Bill Thayer, Executive Vice President of Sales and Service at Bloom Energy. "With a shared vision of reliability, environmental stewardship, and innovation, Bloom Energy and AT&T's collaborative efforts are sure to make an impact throughout their facilities in California."

The Bloom Boxes are expected to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 50 percent, in comparison to the traditional grid. It will eliminate harmful particulate emissions like nitrous oxides and sulfur oxides. 

"AT&T is committed to finding more sustainable ways to power our business operations as part of our efforts to incorporate alternative and renewable energy sources into our energy portfolio," said John Schinter, director of energy for AT&T. "Bloom Energy provided us with a solution that was not only cost comparable but also allows us to minimize environmental impact."

The sites that will receive Bloom Boxes in California will include Corona, Fontana, Pasadena, Redwood City, Hayward, San Ramon, Rialto, San Bernadino, San Jose and San Diego. The installations are to begin later this year, and will be completed by mid 2012.

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When can I get off the grid
By Paulywogstew on 7/12/2011 4:02:56 PM , Rating: 2
I can't wait for these be commercially available for a individuals home.

RE: When can I get off the grid
By haxxorboi on 7/12/2011 4:13:58 PM , Rating: 2
If one server can power 100 average US homes, then it may make sense to use one when building a new subdivision. I suppose retrofitting would also be viable, but designing the area around the server would probably be cheaper in the long run.

I think I recall Bloom having some issues scaling down the Boxes down to a household size, but I'm still hopeful.

RE: When can I get off the grid
By isayisay on 7/12/2011 6:19:54 PM , Rating: 2
I'm very hopeful (without any scientific reason) that this can be scaled down to home size.

RE: When can I get off the grid
By fic2 on 7/13/2011 12:24:33 PM , Rating: 2
It would be nice to at least get it down to small building size energy or block size. I live in a 47 unit building. It would be fantastic if we could get one of these to power the building (or 3 buildings on the block) and, hopefully, provide hot water. And the kicker - at a reasonable price. Now reasonable could be in the $50k-100k range depending on how expensive the operating cost is. I think we pay around $0.10/kW for current electricity. Also, the building itself pays about $50k/year in electricity and natural gas for common hot water. If we could reduce that to $40k/year for just natural gas or even keep it the same $50k/year but residents got free electricity that would be pretty huge - depending on how long the Bloom Box lasts.

RE: When can I get off the grid
By Calin on 7/13/2011 2:23:00 AM , Rating: 2
They are probably very expensive related to their total power output.
What makes them great is the fact that they can generate heat (we used to have big coal-firing power plants that supplied electricity and heat to both industry and city heating).
This the the place for home-sized "thermal and electricity" power plants - you start it when you need heat, and it generates electricity too (electricity which you can sell to the grid for hopefully more than it cost you to produce it, making the heat free).

RE: When can I get off the grid
By tng on 7/12/2011 6:54:43 PM , Rating: 3
The original article from last year said they expected to have home units within 5 years for $3K. Somehow I doubt this will happen, even if they get it down to a home sized box, it will be more than $3K. Considering that the commercial unit is (or was)$800K, how could they get even a much smaller unit down to $3K.

RE: When can I get off the grid
By Bad-Karma on 7/13/2011 1:13:17 AM , Rating: 2
I live in an area north of Dayton that for some reason has very unreliable power. A couple of years ago when the remnants of Hurricane Ike took out power here for almost 7 days.

At that point my wife and I had enough, we had a 100KW NG Generac installed and the whole house wired to switch over and run off of it during power failures. But when the power goes out for any length of time we are also able to prove a decent amount of power to the 3 families living around our us as well.

With all 4 homes pulling on the one generator the operational cost can reach $80+ for every 24 hours of use (depending on aggregate load). The other families each help contribute for the NG that it burns during those times.

But if we could replace this huge noisy monster with a Bloom unit, that also gets a much higher efficiency, Then I wouldn't hesitate to switch out in a heartbeat regardless of the cost.

RE: When can I get off the grid
By Shadowmaster625 on 7/13/2011 9:09:38 AM , Rating: 2
$80 worth of NG in 24 hours? holy $#!t

RE: When can I get off the grid
By Bad-Karma on 7/13/2011 5:34:09 PM , Rating: 3
You got to remember that this generator has a 6.8L V-10 engine. 3 homes are hard wired to a distribution terminal. Mine, and two others are wired to run the central ACs. Our house also runs a full 100% of the household circuits. The fourth home just has an external hookup cable that feeds a few of their circuits.

When all four households are pulling (especially in the summer) that V-10 is absolute roaring at high RPMs trying to push that generator.

RE: When can I get off the grid
By Paj on 7/13/2011 4:43:57 AM , Rating: 3
By looking at the diagram, it looks pretty scalable. Using a modular approach to the construction means that they could conceivably cover a wide range of usage scenarios - and with a couple more contracts like this under their belt, they could keep their manufacturing costs down.

RE: When can I get off the grid
By Shig on 7/13/2011 3:10:35 PM , Rating: 2
I'd like to see these being used more commercially on a large scale before they hit residential markets. Hospitals, big box stores, skyscrapers, large industrial sites, airports, etc.

I'd prefer a combination of grid-tie solar + some form of electric car(plug in probably) for my house instead of what is essentially a generator. That way your house and transportation can be flexible instead of only your house.

"I'm an Internet expert too. It's all right to wire the industrial zone only, but there are many problems if other regions of the North are wired." -- North Korean Supreme Commander Kim Jong-il

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