The '60 Minutes' Bloom Box spot revealed a lot about the clean-energy 'power house.' Here's information that didn't air on TV.
The "60 Minutes" Bloom Box segment Sunday night introduced the world to a previously anonymous and intensely secretive company with a very attractive message: Cheap, clean energy that flows almost magically from a refrigerator-sized box.
This TV debut – a big scoop for CBS News – brought viewers behind the scenes of Bloom Energy and two of its customers, eBay and Google. But the television spot didn't tell the whole story. Several chunks of the interview were Web-exclusive and other news organizations have uncovered new perspective on the team behind Bloom Box.
Monitor colleague Mike Farrell reports that experts are skeptical about whether Mr. Sridhar, who has already raised about $400 million to produce his boxes, can bring expensive fuel cell technology to the masses. You can read more about it here.
How green is it really?
In case you've not read how the Bloom Box system works, each "power plant-in-a-box" come chock full of thin fuel cells, bundled and packaged into an outdoor-safe case. The individual cells soak up oxygen on one side, "and fuel on the other. The two combine within the cell to create a chemical reaction that produces electricity," reported CBS last night. "There's no need for burning or combustion" but it still requires some form of fuel to work. What kind is up to the owner.
"Our system can use fossil fuels like natural gas. Our system can use renewable fuels like landfill gas, bio-gas," Sridhar says. "We can use solar."
In some cases, CO2 is still being emitted by whatever power is feeding the Bloom Box. Rather than calling this new device "zero emission energy," maybe it's better to think of it as a booster pack for already-green sources and as an impressive new filter for dirty ones.
How does installation work?