The Future Of Energy? Bloom Energy Boxes Already Power Google, eBay, Others

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Never fear, Innovationman is here!

Over the past several years, there’s been no shortage of talk about alternative energy, and its potential to change the world. The problem is that most of it is just that — talk. But tonight, a report that aired on 60 Minutes showed one alternative that is not only real, it’s already being tested by companies such as Google and eBay. You simply have to watch this.

Bloom Energy are producing tiny fuel cell boxes they call “Bloom Boxes.” Two of these can apparently power a U.S. home (and only one for homes in countries that use less power). So how small are they? Look at the picture above, each device isn’t much bigger than a standard brick. Of course, they need to be surrounded by a larger unit that takes in an energy source (such as natural gas). But still, these units look to be about the size of a refrigerator and can easily fit outside of a home, providing it with clean, cheap energy.

Currently, these boxes cost some $700,000-$800,000, but eventually, founder K.R. Sridhar envisions one in every home — and he thinks he can get the cost below $3,000 for a unit to make that happen. And he’s talking a 5 to 10 year timeframe for this.

Naturally, there are plenty who are skeptical of something like this ever working. There have been no shortage of fuel cell ideas over the years, but none get their own segment on 60 Minutes showing working units. And none get to highlight the fact that they’re already installed at companies like Google, eBay, FedEx and others. In fact, four of these Bloom Boxes have apparently been powering a Google datacenter for the past 18 months. eBay says their five boxes have saved them over $100,000 in electricity costs over the past nine months.

Bloom Energy also has former Secretary of State Colin Powell on its board of directors, and he talked up the Bloom Boxes on 60 minutes tonight also. And the company has something in the neighborhood of $400 million in funding from the likes of Kleiner Perkins and others. Kleiner’s John Doerr is also featured heavily in the 60 Minutes segment, talking about why he thinks this company can change the world perhaps even in a more profound way that another company he backed, Google, has. Bloom Energy was Kleiner’s first green tech investment.

Again, just watch the video and decide for yourself whether to be skeptical or amazed at this point. Right now, I’m definitely in the latter camp considering this thing is already being tested out. Apparently, Bloom Energy is due for a big formal public unveiling on Wednesday in San Jose (they have a countdown up on their site) —expect to hear a lot more then.

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