Bloom Energy to Unveil the Bloom Box on "60 Minutes," Sunday

27 Comments

As we reported earlier this week, next week looks to be the big unveiling of stealthy fuel cell company Bloom Energy’s Bloom Box. The company is holding a media event on Wednesday, February 24, but this Sunday, “60 Minutes” will air behind-the-scenes video footage of Bloom Energy and its factory. “60 Minutes” affiliate CBS News already has a meaty teaser article on its site, reporting some of the exclusive information it’s found, including that Google (s GOOG), eBay (s EBAY), FedEx (s FDX), Staples (s SPLS) and Walmart are among Bloom Energy’s first 20 customers and that Bloom is building “one box a day” in its factory.

CBS has more details on pricing of the Bloom boxes, too. Each large box, which can power about 100 homes, sells for $700,000 to $800,000, and Bloom hopes to one day (in the next 5-10 years) sell a smaller home version for about $3,000. The CEO of eBay John Donahoe tells 60 Minutes that nine months ago five Bloom boxes were installed on eBay’s campus and so far the boxes have saved the Internet giant $100,000 in electricity bills. We’ll make sure to watch the “60 Minutes” clip and keep you updated.

27 Comments

Richard Kriete

Mike:

Fuel cells don’t burn natural gas or anything else and the “Hydrogen fuel cell” is the same as a natural gas fuel cell. The hydrogen is stripped from the natural gas in a reformation process and power is produced from an electrochemical reaction, no combustion.

Richard

Mike in Austin

Various thoughts:

Having anything in every American household in 5 yrs is pretty much preposterous.

NatGas is cleaner (to burn and to collect) than coal which is how most US electricity is generated.

There’s only been a single energy production breakthrough in the last 100 yrs and that was nuclear energy, which has had a few problems along the way.

If the physics of the thing works (which seems to be the case), then NatGas is potentially do-able, unlike Hydrogen fuel cells…

The US currently has good reserves of NatGas, but the two greatest reserves are in Siberia and (drum roll) Iran… Also, getting NatGas across oceans is not trivial.

The consumer wouldn’t care who, e.g. GE or some startup, develops such technology.

Lesley Stahl previously reported that all Americans would be thin in the future via Hoodia, remember that one?

Webber

So it’s going to take 5-10 years for a home unit?! You might as well say, “Yeah… Were going to need you to pay even more money to the electric company for a long time before we sell our product that we shouldn’t have showcased in the first place to the public since we don’t have the smaller model ‘done'”
They have it done, I’m sure. they just want to market the hell out of the thing and horde their money to themselves like all the damn money sucking bastards in this world. Shame on their 5-10 years estimate. They should be pushed by the government to come out with their energy cube faster.
What a waste of tv time.

Ze

I hate to cloud your visions of grandeur but thee are some serious flaws with your Bloom power energy box program. There are things in your program that simply don’t make economic or engineerng sense, nor are they consistent with known principals of physics!

Consider the following:

1 “savings are 1/2 the natural gas of a conventional ystem?” What does NATGAS have to do with the electric grid and consumers? NOTHING! It’s not based on natural gas! This is a bait nd swith from electric grid to natgas. No savings or reduction in energy waste!

  1. “It can be solar powered”…? I thought it was based on oxygen and petroleum being fused in a silica substrate. That’s not PV / solar! Misleading!

  2. To acheive a reduction of cost from $800,000 limited production to $3,000 mass production is quite frankly misleading and humanly impossible from a production manufacturing standpoint. Henry Ford could have built a Model T for .50 cents if that was the case and a new F-350 would be $50.00 not $50,000.00!

That’s just to name just a few..!

How this is passing the litmus test of an IPO this week with the SEC warrants a criminal investigation. I see a short sell / stock maniplation pump and dump scheme in the making!

It’s not saving energy, it’s replacing grid power for a NATGAS device, which will only increase the conusmers gas bill as the electric bill goes down! Oh… and then there’s the $800,000 capital investment that must be made before you start save money or get off the grid!

Smoke & Mirrors!

RD

Ze
I think you misread or misunderstood. The $800000 unit could power 100 homes, making the cost $8000 per home. Going from $8000 to $3000, very possible.

Chuck Wilson

I believe the some of the savings are in transmission cost. My understanding is that average transmission loss for electricity is about 50%. So rather than generate with natural gas and then lose half of it getting there, you produce it on the spot. My hope is more in the area of using other methane sources such as landfills.
Of course the Bloom box is not a magic pill, but like lithium batteries, it moves us closer. Making the fuel cell practical and available. I can envision fuel cells some day replacing all internal combustion applications.
Better batteries, better solar cells, better fuel cells, they all help. Of course we still need better building envelopes, more efficient devices, and better personal energy habits.

Robert

I am not going to speculate on the realities product. Simply put, we shall see what happens.
One thing I would like to point out is the cost of transmission and taxes which we pay for our electricity.
Honestly in my area the transmission fee’s and taxes added together are close to three times the actual electricity used.
So at today’s rates i believe it would be a big cost cutter and pay for itself very quickly even compared to solar.

That is until it becomes widely adopted and natural gas catches a heavy tax to make up the new gap in the budget.

I regards to transmission losses. only %40 of produced energy actually makes it to our homes. %60 is lost in transmission because of the condition of our infrastructure. The buzz from the overhead power lines you hear in the rain is electricity literally leaking from the lines. Generally i believe this would lead to less waste all around and possibly eliminate sections of the grid.

Hey, all we can do is hope for the best.

Mike D

Ze,
You don’t seem to understand anything about fuel cells and worse, you have no idea that you don’t understand. Are you, by chance, Sarah Palin? There was nothing that you said that had anything to do with physics, and you also completely misunderstood the simple economics mentioned in the article.

Fuel cells require, surprisingly, fuel. Hence the need for natural gas(or land-fill methane or hog-farm methane or solar generated hydrogen, etc.). It is not a bait and switch to get consumers to consume natural gas. Fuel cells are highly efficient, and as Chuck pointed out, the grid is terribly inefficient(and vulnerable to terrorism).

I’m all for giving it a shot and I’d like to see more tax dollars support this sort of thing. Screw the Bush tax cuts and the “drill, baby, drill” idiocy. Aside from CO2 reductions, this might also be just one step closer to weaning us off of mid-east oil. That day can’t come soon enough for me, and it won’t get here while we have an energy addiction.

LA Woman

We NEED something to undo all the damage the the “BUSHenomics” legacy leaves us with. Contracts to energy companies that don’t deliver, but instead pass the costs onto the underemployed,underpaid workerbees(Remeber Enron anyone?). Maybe this company can create some jobs- the state of CA needs many and has space for manufacturing as well.

Larry Turner

After watching the “60 Minutes” clip I was impressed.

Chuck Wilson

Wow! I just saw this on 60 minutes. I really hope it’s not hype. Great potential for anyone on a fuel grid like natural gas, but I am excited about the potential for methane, etc. I am anxious to know about efficiency of fuel conversion, and emissions.

Lonnie Summerlin

I would like to be the first to try out the bloom box at my home.

patti kennedy

Apparently the state of California gives a 20% energy credit and I think the FEDS give 30% and so the cost is cut in half. And presumably when, and IF, they can increase production (and HOPEFULLY fix the glitches), get manufacturing regionally, and refine the fuel options.
It certainly sounds appealing and promising but I am no expert (hardly) but when the ‘INNOVATORS’ of the business world like Google and EBay jump into a ‘unknown’ (under a veil of secrecy) I think we need to be AWARE and WATCH. Let’s hope that the upbeat attitude of the Bloom team will catch on (pun not intended) and they will stay just as dedicated to what appears to be their very green target and help save the planet.

patti kennedy

oops, apparently I am not an expert on finishing a sentence either. I should have finished my second sentence with decreasing costs of the Bloombox.

padre bill

Just saw the TV Story; its my humble opinion in ten years Boom box will be owned by General Electric. Then a research group will meet behind closed doors for the next hundred years ironing out problems. this “invention” will be like the electric automobile, or the car battery that will never fail.

Douglas Brown

Or, Nichola Tesla wanting to broadcast electricity over the air free, for all to benefit. That got shot down quick. How about the australian that developed a magnetic self propelled generator that could power a household easily? I think he was bought out for a large sum.

joe the realist

The problem with this box is that you wont own it. You will have to pay a monthly fee to have it. And of course the fee will be as large, or larger than your current electric bill.

Sohier

There must be some subsidies the article doesn’t mention? Otherwise it will take 30 years for eBay just to repay the initial investment, to say nothing of earning a return.

Mo Kilma

Based on what is being reported in this article the return on investment is not very high:

Cost of 5 Boxes at eBay: 5($750,000; “average cost”) – $3,750,000
Savings on Electricity Per Year at Ebay: (12/9)*$100,000 – $133,333

ROI = 133,333)/3,750,0000 = .0355555555 or 3.56%

Am I missing something here? Is it $100,000 per box that they saved?

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