Monthly Archives: February 2010

Why Bloom is a Game Changer

Wow!

What an exciting day in energy. Today Bloom Energy changed the game with their Bloom Server, here is why.

We all know the story that the vast majority of our energy comes from old (and dirty) power plants that use coal and nuclear energy sources. Well the hidden truth behind these “energy sources” is that all they do is heat water to create steam and move turbines. They make steam!

How ridiculous is that. We can send a robot to Mars but to power my iPhone I need some boiling water?

This ridiculous market paradigm is what Bloom hopes to exploit (and make billions in the process). They ignore the source argument over replacing coal and nuclear with wind, solar, or heat. Instead focusing on the energy process itself and applying advanced technology to wring some efficiency out of it.

K.R. Sridhar, CEO of Bloom, PhD, and former Director of Space Technologies at UofA, did just that. He found that a combination of fuel cells and natural gas can get 2x as much power as the steam process can (using same inputs). In his own words, they did it through old fashioned innovation:

“I call it R&D on steroids,” K.R. Sridhar said at the start-up’s offices. “We created an R&D platform where you continuously improve, validate and test. Learn why it broke and move on.”

That RD process has turned out one of the most promising energy technologies to date (imagine needing half as much coal). A fuel cell made out of sand and coated in a cheap metal “oxide” (they are keeping the recipe a secret). Each cell is super thin and just a few inches wide/long and capable of turning natural gas into electricity.

That is the fuel cell side to all this, although it doesn’t sound at all like traditional fuel cells.

The kicker is that this is not future technology. These fuel cells are already in place at many large business sites. Google is reported to be the first to have installed one while eBay, who hosted the press event, said to have five Bloom Servers providing %15 of their energy. A server is about 4,000 cells jammed into a black box that looks like an IT server.

That is just the beginning. This technology is so promising that everybody is joining the party. The press event was attended by Arnold Schwarzenegger, Colin Powell, Dianne Feinstein, and Michael Bloomberg (“make no mistake, when we look at Bloom, we are looking at the future of business, economy, and America”).

Finally, the VP and CEO’s of FedEx, Walmart, Staples, Google, Coca Cola, Bank of America, Cox, and eBay were on hand to explain why they love Bloom.

A star studded public relations event or the future of energy technology?

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CNet Live Blog Of Bloom Energy Press Event

Engadget Live Blog of Bloom Energy Press Event

The Sustainable Executive Order – 13514

The Department of Energy (DOE/FEMP) is holding a monthly online seminar focusing on sustainability. The sessions provide support for legions of federal workers that are leading the nation into our new green economy.

The first session (of six) focuses on Executive Order 13514, commonly called the sustainable order. The following training sessions are as follows:

  • Mar 4 – Energy 101
  • Apr 1 – Water Efficiency Planning and Implementation
  • May 6 – Federal Greenhouse Gas Accounting and Reporting
  • Jun 3 – Advanced Metering Requirements and Best Practices
  • Jul 1 – Operations, Maintenance, and Commissioning

Each session is available for free through online video streaming.

I attended the first one (virtually) and here are my notes. Also, I am keeping out the presenters emails but if you have questions and would like their contacts, please let me know.

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“As the largest consumer of energy in the US economy the Federal government can and should lead by example when it comes to creating innovative ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase energy efficiency, conserve water, reduce waste, and use environmentally-responsible products and technologies.”

The thinking behind the Order is to:

  • have the federal government “lead by example”
  • “take pride in agency accomplishments” (highlight work already being done)
  • encourage agencies to think “integrated planning”
  • push/pull/force agencies to reach across “stovepipes”

The Federal Government:

  • Occupies nearly 500,000 buildings
  • Operates more than 500,000 vehicles
  • Employs more than 1.8 million civilians
  • Purchases more than $500 billion per year in goods and services

Benefits to the Nation:

  • Energy savings – Avoided Costs – Jobs – Innovations – Improvements to Local Infrastructure

Policy:

  • Establish an integrated agency strategy for sustainability, including reducing greenhouse gas emissions within the federal government in order to lead by example and achieve a clean energy economy.
    • “really talking about practical application”
    • “requires strategic perspective bringing together the right components”
    • “planning is crucial”

Goals:

  • GHG reduction targets, energy efficiency, water use efficiency and mgmt, pollution prevention, waste elimination
  • Regional and local integrated planning
  • High performance sustainable Federal buildings
  • Sustainable acquisition
  • Electronics stewardship
  • Environmental mgmt systems

Scopes in Greenhouse Gasses, asking for an absolute percentage reduction target for FY 2020, relative to FY 2008. Due:

  • Scope 1-2 – jan 4, 2010
  • Scope 3 – jun 2, 2010

By FY 2015 achieve a %50 or higher solid waste diversion and construction/demolition diversion

This represents “nothing less than a transformational shift in how federal governments operate”

Additional Work

  • DOE to develop greenhouse gas accounting and reporting recommendations by April/Oct
  • DOT to site sustainable locations for federal facilities
  • GSA to develop local transportation logistics
  • DOE to write federal fleet mgmt guidance
  • GSA to pass along vendor and contractor emissions guidnace
  • EPA to write stormwater guidance for federal facilities

Full copy of the briefing: Executive Order 13514 Training