Bloom Energy announced its fuel cells servers can now work off stored hydrogen supplies that can be used as an indirect way to store and generate excess electricity.
Bloom is headquartered in San Jose, CA and has its main production plant in Newark. The company has fuel server sites in northern Delaware that feed power into the Delmarva Power grid.
Bloom energy servers typically run off natural gas and more recently biogas from landfills and related sources.
How it works
Hydrogen fuelis a renewable resource that is now making its way into the marketplace, with Honda now offering hydrogen-fueled cars in California. Asia, an area where natural gas is often imported, is seeing greater demand for hydrogen.
The University of Delaware has been a center for hydrogen research and for a time ran a hydrogen-powered bus
“Scaling clean and renewable power is critical to reducing the impact of climate change, but we need a combination of flexible and reliable always-on power solutions to get us there,” saidKR Sridhar, founder and CEO of Bloom Energy.“Today, fuel cells, wind and solar power reduce CO2emissions largely independently of one another. Going forward, those same technologies will work symbiotically to balance supply and demand.”
According to Bloom, wind and solar power sometimes produces an excess amount of electricity. That excess electric power could be used to produce hydrogen.
California already sees excess power at times from wind and solar. Wind power is also popular in Texas.
Meanwhile, renewable hydrogen is becoming more available in some states and countries. It is produced by breaking down water into hydrogen and oxygen using electrolysis. More than 200 water electrolysis projects have come online since 2000 with many more larger electrolysis projects have been announced in the U.S. and Europe.
Hydrogen produced from excess electricity could then be stored for future use. That would reduce the need for batteries to store excess power, an expensive proposition.
Another potential storage source comes in the form of electric vehicles that could store and discharge power while parked. The University of Delaware has also done research in that area
Bloom energy servers can now be converted to hydrogen fuel or switch back to natural gas.
Bloom still believes that natural gas will be the dominant fuel source of fuel for its servers.
Utilities like Southern Corp. have been shifting from coal to natural gas, while also working in the renewables area.
A unit of Southern recently took a majority stake in Bloom’s fuel cell arrays in northern Delaware.
Bloom fuel cells operate continuously and can function as a power source for data centers, hospitals, and small scale grids if outages take place. A number of Fortune 500 companies, including JPMorgan Chase in Delaware have Bloom servers.
Research is underway on introducing hydrogen that would be mixed with natural gas and produce cleaner fuel, Bloom noted.