Trending: Utility giant Southern Power takes majority stake in Bloom fuel cell sites in Delaware

Bloom servers in the Brookside area near Newark.

Bloom Energy formally announced it will deploy repowered  fuel cells at two sites near  New Castle and Newark following an investment from a utility giant.

The upgrade of the sites that generate 30 mgawatts of electricity will be aided by an investment by Southern Power, a  national. wholesale energy provider, and a subsidiary of Southern Company. Credit Suisse,  an investor in the array of fuel cells,  is now out. 

Financial terms were not immediately disclosed. 

“This is an excellent project to continue the growth of our partnership with Bloom Energy,” said Mark Lantrip, CEO of Southern Power. “We’re excited to make an investment in a new technology that can provide generation resources to meet our customers’ needs as the energy industry continues to evolve.”

In 2016, Bloom Energy and Southern Company formed a strategic alliance This alliance has developed more than 80 megawatts of fuel cells at sites around the country.

Bloom has applied for a permit from Delaware environmental regulators that has been opposed by critics of the company.

 “By upgrading the prior generation of Bloom Energy Servers to the newest generation equipment at the Delaware sites, we will continue to generate clean electricity with virtually no smog-forming emissions, and with even fewer CO2 emissions,” said Susan Brennan, chief operations officer of Bloom Energy. “We are delighted that Southern Power’s investment in this project is helping us bring cleaner air to the citizens of Delaware.”

Bloom Energy servers generate electricity by converting natural gas or biogas into electricity via an electrochemical process. 

Bloom Energy says its fuel cells generate low-emission power around the clock, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by amounts comparable to intermittent zero-emission wind and solar power on an annual basis.

The fuel cells have operated during extreme weather events. Other installations in Delaware and elsewhere have been made at data centers and mini-grids that can provide emergency power to public buildings, hospitals and other facilities.

The Delaware fuel cell project was previously owned by Bloom Energy and an arm of the Swiss banking giant  

Southern Power will become the majority co-owner with Bloom Energy. Bloom Energy will continue to operate, maintain and provide Bloom Energy Servers to the fuel cell project.

Southern has been reducing its dependence on coal. The Southern Co. system generates about 27 percent of its electric power from coal and 47 percent from natural gas, 15 percent from nuclear and 11 percent from renewables.

In  2005, Southern generated about 71 percent of its electricity from coal and 11 percent from natural gas.

The Bloom fuel cells feed power into the Delmarva Power system. Delmarva customers pay added charges for the fuel cells under a fixed-rate, long-term contract approved by regulators and the Delaware General Assembly.

The agreement, which came in return for Bloom locating the fuel cell plant in Delaware, has been controversial with employment at the plant falling short of projects, resulting in payments to the state for not meeting those figures.  

As of late MarchBloom had 334 full-time workers in Delaware and paid $99.3 million in cumulative compensation. The company also has openings for Assembly Technician, Operations Welder, and Global Logistics Trade Compliance Manager positions.


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