Bloom Energy's Electrons service: How energy servers will scale

Summary:Bloom Energy, which makes the Bloom Box energy server, may have just found its business model mojo. The plan: Install Bloom Boxes at various locations and just charge customers for the power.

Bloom Energy, which makes the Bloom Box energy server, may have just found its business model mojo. The plan: Install Bloom Boxes at various locations and just charge customers for the power.

Think of it as an energy server as a service.

I just recapped the Bloom Energy as a service effort at SmartPlanet, but the new Electrons model makes a ton of sense. In a nutshell, Bloom Electrons is a service where customers have no upfront investment and pay for just power.

The Pasadena, Calif.-based company made a big splash last year with a debut on 60 Minutes. The Bloom Box is essentially a fuel cell that can serve as a power plant. These mini-power plants can be stacked and housed in a unit the size of a refrigerator.

The problem is that many companies aren't going to want to put the money upfront for a Bloom Box (right). With that fact in mind, Bloom Energy created the Electrons service. The new model works like this:

  • Bloom will install its boxes on a customer's site and maintain them.
  • Customers pay for the electricity consumed.
  • Bloom and the customer enter a 10 year deal locking in electricity rates.

Bloom Energy argues that the service can help customers save up to 20 percent on their bills. What's also notable is that the Electrons service could give Bloom Energy steady, predictable recurring revenue that can be used for expansion.

The big question here is whether energy servers and procuring power will become an information technology management issue. Rest assured, a lot of these Bloom Boxes are going to be next to data centers.

Topics: Emerging Tech, CXO, Servers

About

Larry Dignan is Editor in Chief of ZDNet and SmartPlanet as well as Editorial Director of ZDNet's sister site TechRepublic. He was most recently Executive Editor of News and Blogs at ZDNet. Prior to that he was executive news editor at eWeek and news editor at Baseline. He also served as the East Coast news editor and finance editor at CN... Full Bio

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