Fuel cell maker Bloom Energy has broken ground on a new manufacturing plant in Newark, Delaware, on a 272-acre former Chrysler assembly site.
Now bicoastal, Bloom will have double the manufacturing capacity. Last year, it quadrupled capacity at its plant – and headquarters – in Sunnyvale, California, to 210,000 square feet, creating more than 1000 jobs.
Bloom also announced new customers: Owens Corning, Urban Outfitters, Delmarva Power, Washington Gas and AT&T. They join Google, eBay, Wal-Mart, Staples and Coca-Cola that have already have Bloom Boxes.
AT&T has Bloom Boxes at 11 sites in California, producing 7.5 megawatts. The fuel cells that will power Apple’s new massive data center in North Carolina will be Bloom Boxes.
The company launched a service model last year – Bloom Electrons – similar to that of solar leasing: customers purchase the energy rather than buying the fuel cell boxes outright.
Customers lock in the electricity rate for 10 years, delivering fixed predictable costs, and Bloom manages and maintains the systems.
Bloom’s solid oxide fuel cell technology converts fuel to electricity using an electrochemical reaction, rather than combustion. As a result, customers greatly reduce their carbon footprint while also cutting operating costs, the company says.
The Bloom Energy Manufacturing Center will become the anchor tenant of the new University of Delaware Science, Technology and Advanced Research Campus. “From the beginning, we’ve envisioned this campus as a place where the most creative minds in academia and industry come together to solve the world’s most urgent problems. This vision is being actualized today. We look forward to engaging with Bloom in innovative research, academic and community partnerships – partnerships that benefit the state and its people and revolutionize America’s clean energy future,” says University of Delaware President Patrick Harker.
Construction is expected to be completed in mid-2013, with manufacturing set to begin shortly afterwards.