With the announcement earlier this week of a second wave of fuel cell installations at 28 facilities in California and Connecticut, Dallas-based AT&T (News - Alert) has become Bloom Energy’s largest non-utility customer.
The new Bloom Boxes will produce 9.6 megawatts (MW) of power—bringing the total amount of fuel-cell energy at AT&T’s U.S. facilities up to 17.1 MW, including the 7.5 MW that the telecommunications provider installed last year at 11 California sites.
Image via Bloom Energy
Once fully operational, all of AT&T’s Bloom Box (News - Alert) installations are expected to produce more than 149 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity annually, enough to power more than 13,680 homes per year.
“AT&T continues to be on the forefront of energy management and understands the need to find innovative ways to power the next generation.” said KR Sridhar, CEO of Sunnyvale, California-based Bloom Energy. “The investment they are making now not only means they will have control on their own energy destiny, but will also help ensure a brighter and more energy rich future for all.”
Bloom Boxes contain stacked fuel cells that convert air and natural gas into electricity through a clean electrochemical process. Use of this power reduces carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by about 50 percent, compared to the grid, and virtually eliminates all sulfur dioxide (Sox), nitrogen dioxide (Nox), and other harmful smog-forming particulate emissions.
“A key differentiator for fuel cells, compared to other forms of alternative power, is that fuel cell electricity production is virtually constant,” explained AT&T’s Senior Energy Director John Schinter. “They provide steady, recurring electricity production at a relatively predictable cost—replacing the traditional electricity bill, which can be volatile.”
Bloom Box installations fit into AT&T’s three-pronged approach to energy management:
Alternative energy where cost-comparable,
Company-wide energy efficiency projects, and
Effective collaboration to develop best practices in energy management.
In addition to Bloom Energy fuel cells, AT&T has deployed nearly 3.9 MW of solar installations and works with external groups—such as the Environmental Defense Fund and Rocky Mountain Institute—to investigate highly scalable energy efficiency projects. These initiatives build on AT&T’s energy management work, through which the company completed 8,700 energy efficiency projects that led to an annualized savings of $86 million in 2010 and 2011
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Edited by Brooke Neuman