While the 60 Minutes show boasted that 20 large companies bought Bloom Boxes in California, it also mentions that that in California 20 percent of the cost is subsidized by the state, and there's a 30 percent federal tax break because it's a "green" technology.
Some people see similarities with the Bloom Energy project to another company once touted for its unusual technology, solar panel maker Solyndra. Like Solyndra, Bloom Energy has received a large amount of government subsidies to get their company up and running.
Are Bloom Boxes good for our environment?
Greentech Media writer Eric Wesoff has analyzed scientific data in search of answers to questions about Bloom Box carbon emissions.
In an article published in February 2011, "Bloom Energy vs. Cogeneration Reality," Wesoff comments on a white paper written by Bob Spitzka and James Hall. His summary of the research states that cogeneration can achieve better carbon dioxide reductions than the Bloom Energy fuel cell when operating on the same type of fuel.
Spitzka and Hall are licensed professional engineers in northern California who have collaborated on the feasibility and design of nearly 100 cogeneration projects. Cogeneration or combined heat and power (CHP) are systems designed to generate both heat and power.
In a September 2013, article "Bloom’s Fuel Cells: Just How Green Is a Bloom Box?" Eric Wesoff analyzes scientific data on the emissions from Bloom Boxes. Wesoff concludes, that a Bloom Box is a little more environmentally friendly that an oil or coal fired plant, but "it's nothing to write home about."
Are Bloom Boxes a green technology scam?
In 2011, Bloom Energy began working with Delaware government to bring the Bloom Box to the east coast and to begin manufacturing the fuel cells at an abandoned Chrysler plant in Newark, Delaware.
Lindsay Leveen, a chemical engineer who writes often about fuel cell technology, discussed his thoughts on the Delaware Bloom Energy project in the August 2012, "Delaware opens Pandora’s Box with BloomEnergy black box." In the article Leveen states Bloom’s 163-page application and public statements about the Delaware Bloom Energy project "are replete with techno-speak, questionable calculations and outright misinformation."
Leveen says that an adequate analysis of Bloom's claims are essential to show "how companies like Bloom befuddle and bamboozle insufficiently informed citizens and politicians."
What's on your mind today?
Still trying to separate the politics from the technology? We will be following up this article with another one on the politics of Bloom Energy.