Fuel cell startup Bloom Energy will be offering a leasing program in conjunction with Bank of America Merrill Lynch for new customers that want to install its fuel cells at their buildings and operations, it announced Tuesday. Some of the first customers to use the leasing program to pay for fuel cells farms are TaylorMade Adidas Golf, at its factory in Carlsbad, Calif., and the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif.
Fuel cells are large refrigerator-sized boxes that produce electricity through a chemical reaction, instead of combustion. Bloom Energy’s fuel cells take a fuel — usually natural gas or biogas — and run it over plates lined with a catalyst metal, which produces electricity.
Customers are buying Bloom Energy’s fuel cells because they can produce energy onsite at a facility, so they can disconnect the building or factory from the power grid, making it more resilient to blackouts. The electricity can also be cleaner, with less carbon emissions, particularly if the Bloom fuel cells run on biogas.
Bloom Energy didn’t disclose the size of the commitment by Bank of America Merrill Lynch, but only said that the fund size was a “multimillion dollar” one. Bloom Energy told me that the lease payment is a fixed payment that incorporates the tax and incentive benefits if available, and that its customers are comfortable with the leasing model as its used in many other industries.
New financing options that reduce the upfront cost of the tech are one of the best ways to move an early stage technology into more of a mainstream market. SolarCity and other solar installers have been offering solar financing options that get rid of the upfront cost of rooftop solar panels. Electric car companies launched new financing for EVs for the same reason.
Bloom Energy was already selling electrons as a service, and this is another financing option for their customers.