Blog Post

Apple is (finally) confirmed as Bloom Energy’s customer

Stay on Top of Emerging Technology Trends

Get updates impacting your industry from our GigaOm Research Community
Join the Community!

Updated: Last month I exclusively reported that Apple (s AAPL) was buying fuel cells from Bloom Energy for its data center in Maiden, North Carolina. However at the time neither company would confirm the deal. Well, on Monday morning Bloom Energy has finally confirmed that yes, it is supplying fuel cells for Apple’s data center, reports CNET.

Fuel cells take fuel (natural gas or biogas) and combine it with oxygen and other chemicals to create an electrochemical reaction to produce electricity. Each of Bloom Energy’s next-generation fuel cells produces 200 kW of power right at a building.

Apple is planning to build a massive 4.8 MW fuel cell farm for a data center that will consume 20 MW, according to Apple’s latest figures. Apple is also building an adjacent 20 MW solar panel farm at the data center. While Greenpeace has given Apple low marks for building its data center in North Carolina, where the grid has a lot of coal power, Apple actually seems to be going to significant lengths to build its own clean power sources at the site itself.

On Monday morning Bloom Energy also held a ground breaking ceremony for its first factory on the east coast in Newark, Delaware, which could make some of the fuel cells that Apple will use at the North Carolina site. Update: Actually Apple’s fuel cell farm will be live by this Summer, and the Bloom factory won’t produce fuel cells until 2013. The east coast factory is expected to create hundreds of jobs and will make 1,000 Bloom boxes a year, reports CNET. The anchor customer for Bloom’s east coast factory is the local utility Delmarva Power & Light, which has about 500,000 electricity customers and plans to buy 30 MW worth of fuel cells from Bloom.

Apple’s fuel cell farm is supposed to run on biogas (gas emitted by decomposing organic waste). An increasing number of Internet companies, like Apple, Google (s GOOG) and Microsoft (s MSFT), are experimenting with turning to biogas as an emerging source to power part of their data centers (see my primer on what you need to know about biogas and data centers). Bloom Energy recently launched a division specifically focused on providing reliable power for data centers.

Image courtesy of Bloom Energy at AT&T campus.

2 Responses to “Apple is (finally) confirmed as Bloom Energy’s customer”

  1. Jeff X Williams

    Bloom Energy… Article

    To top it off, because of the Bloom servers’ low efficiency and high capital cost, Delaware citizens will pay Bloom over $200 per megawatt hour of power delivered to their electricity transmission grid. But in January 2012, the U.S. Energy Information Agency said the projected “levelized” cost of electricity over the next 30 years from advanced gas-fired combined cycle power stations is $65.50 per MWH.

  2. Jeff X Williams

    Bloom Energy = JOKE!

    Federal Lawsuit Regarding Bloom Energy

    “Buried deep in the permit application, in Table 1 on page 161 of a 163-page application, was the number 884. On that page, under penalty of perjury, Bloom officially told the world that its energy servers emit 884 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour.”

    Also buried on page 161 of the permit application is a Table 2 notation that says these 235 “clean” servers would emit 22.56 pounds of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) per day. But Delaware, like other states, regulates VOC emissions at far lower levels (Maryland, for instance, regulates boat repair shops that emit more than 15 pounds per day). Moreover, if the same amount of power had been generated by combined cycle gas turbines, only 0.249 pounds of VOCs would be emitted daily. That’s 90 times less pollution!