EBay will install five natural gas fuel cells with a total capacity of 500 kilowatts at its facility in San Jose. The city approved the permit in July. The fuels cells are made by Bloom Energy:
CNN Money in 2007 placed Bloom on its list of 15 companies that will change the world, and it said Bloom’s fuel cell could disrupt the idea that power has to come from central power plants. Sridhar’s plan calls for making fuel cells that can run on any hydrocarbon fuel, including ethanol, biodiesel, methane or natural gas.
The fuel cells turn natural gas into electricity with much higher efficiency than large combustion generators. These small fuel cells could power single homes, neighborhoods or commercial facilities and could feed power back to the grid. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory published a study in 2003 explaining how widespread distributed generation could interact with the grid.
The U.S. military will be very interested.
Bloom was started by K.R. Sridhar who aims to bring the benefits of electricity to the billions of people not connected to any power grid — and likely never will be.