Google has been dabbling in the power industry for quite some time. So much so, I thought they might have had something to share with Obama, when I penned, "Google Could Become Obama's Next Secretary Of Energy." Their experimentation has led them to a relationship with one K.R. Sridhar and a little magic box that is one hot little bloomin' energy source.
In the world of energy, the Holy Grail is a power source that's inexpensive and clean. Lesley Stahl got an inside look at Sridhar's "energy machine" on a recent 60 Minutes episode that aired Feb. 21.
While not powering Google's Data Centers which requires massive amounts of energy (their quattrillion number of searches obviously require a lot juice!), they are using Sridhar's Bloom Energy powered a portion of Google's energy needs at their headquarters in Mountain View, California. And according to a Google spokesperson, Bloom fuel "delivered 3.8 million KWh of electricity."
The primary barrier to use of fuel cells in data centers has been the up-front cost of the units. 60 Minutes reports that each Bloom unit costs $700,000 to $800,000. Not a small price tag.
So a lot of questions remain if this is not saving money for Google, how could it possibly be considered for the household market? This critical question may be answered at a Bloom Box press conference to be held February 23 in San Jose, California on the campus of eBay (EBAY), one of Bloom’s first customers. Their Web site has a count-down clock posted for the event.
Bloom Energy Countdown Clock till press conference
Eric Schmidt, CEO Google & Arnold SchwarzeneggerThe conference will feature a star-studded lineup that includes California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, board member Colin Powell, eBay CEO John Donahoe, Google executives — and, of course, the man on the hot seat, Sridhar himself. Let’s hope one of them can tell us whether the eight secretive years and $400 million Bloom has raised has produced a product that might be commercially viable anytime soon.
With a Democratic congress and a President who have both preached a desire to find alternatives to fossil fuels, something like the Bloom Box might be just what they’re looking for. With a start-up company such as this, they might be able to get the Bloom Boxes for cheaper than what the company could offer up to a private company. However, at this moment in time, the jury is out and we will just have to lean on Google to do the heavy-lifting until the Bloom Box goes mainstream and is put out to market at a reasonable price.
If you are interested in where the name for the Bloom Box 'name' originated, check out this portion of Lesley Stahl's 60 Minutes' interview with K.R. Sridhar.