Naysayers Begin to Poo-Poo On Bloom Box's Lofty Claims

Illustration for article titled Naysayers Begin to Poo-Poo On Bloom Box's Lofty Claims

Well, that didn't take long. Already analysts are crawling out of the woodwork to put the seemingly miraculous Bloom Box fuel cell in its place as yet another energy saving technology that won't perform as advertised.

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This week it was IDC Energy Insights analyst Sam Jaffe, who said that while the fuel cell developed by Bloom Energy CEO K.R Sridhar and his team was definitely "not bogus," it just doesn't differentiate itself well enough from already available fuel cell technologies—especially as it pertains to price.

And the device's supposedly unique "fuel-switching" ability? Not unique at all, Jaffe claimed on his Energy Insight blog, in a post titled "Four Things Bloom Energy Forgot to Tell the World":

"Any high-temperature fuel cell should be able to do that. The fact that it's solid oxide and it's primarily ceramic opens up the possibility of making it much more cheaply, but every start-up in the energy field has an expensive product that they claim one day will be cheap. There is no reason to believe that Bloom has the ability to make it that much more cheaply. I'm pretty pessimistic about it."

Indeed. Further...fueling Jaffe's pessimism is the belief that a Bloom Box isn't really all that green if you're comparing it to the way we traditionally get power from the grid. At a cost of $7-$8/watt, he contends, the miracle box is no less expensive than photovoltaics that have been purchased at a rate of 100 kW at a time.

Another miracle energy tech bites the dust? Unless Bloom Energy can curb costs and green things up a bit, the answer for now is "maybe." Unless the unicorns get involved, anyway.

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Still confused about fuel cells and the Bloom Box? Be sure to check out our regular Giz Explains column on this very topic! [IDC via CNET]

DISCUSSION

Sicpup
Sicpup

sadly, the profit pool for this thing is too shallow for wide support, and altruism may give you the warm fuzzies, but if it don't make money for the big boys the odds of survival are bleak.

the argument for centralized power distribution never mentions the ancillary costs and profit distributions from the other factors involved- you ain't just makin' a power plant, you are making distribution channels, substations, power lines, terminals and other integral components to transfer said power, not to mention the labor costs incurred- and all of them make money for the agencies involved.

eliminate those profits and you make some folks uncomfortable.

on-site power supplies do exactly that- and it causes the guys who have made BILLIONS from standard power distribution feel insecure about the future of thier bottom line, consequently the negative views.

recently, the Ca. legislature made it possible for residential solar users to sell back 5% of the excess power generated by thier own systems- up from 2.5%. nice move 'till you think about it. how nice it is that we can now legally sell 5%, but what about the other potential 20% that could be sold back?

nope.

they don't want it.

that would create an unfair powervsurpluss that would LOWER THE RATE CHARGED and compromise profit.

when you allow folks to exist without contributing to the revenue stream, that is bad for business, share-holders, the economy, and the American way of life. give 'em time, and they will scream that on-site power is helping the terrorists destroy America.

this pretty much sums up why we will never have cheap, reliable, renewable and clean energy.

ain't gonna happen if they can't make money from it.