Bloom Energy, which produces the solid-oxide fuel cell known as the Bloom Box, just made off-grid electricity more accessible. The Bloom Box, previously only available to people and companies willing to fork out $800,000 for it, is now also part of a service called Bloom Electrons. When you sign up for this service, you can lock in electricity rates for 10 years, and only pay for the electricity you consume, according to the press release. You don’t have to pay for Bloom Box hardware or maintenance. The cell is delivered to your site, you sign the contract, and voila, electricity. The New York Times has more:
The launch of the program answers whether Bloom would put out a more-affordable option for its fuel cell anytime soon, a question that has lingered since the Kleiner Perkins-backed company made a splash last year on a 60 Minutes segment. Customers like Adobe, Google and eBay spend between $700,000 and $800,000 for one Bloom Box, a fuel cell roughly the size of a parking space that Bloom claims can power up to 100 American homes. Each Bloom Box is filled with stacks of razor-thin discs each of which that, when infused with a source of fuel like natural gas, can put out enough electricity to power a light bulb, using technology CEO KR Srihdar initially developed at NASA. But Bloom has also said it would develop a cheaper, $3,000 version of the box that could power an individual home.
The Bloom Electrons program requires a 10-year contract, with customers paying only for the cost of electricity consumed, taking away the upfront capital costs and, Bloom says, saving them 20 percent on electricity bills. The company will initially deploy 200 systems, or 20 megawatts’ worth of fuel cells.
The more off-grid options, the better, not just from an energy conservation standpoint, but for competition, too.