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Bloom Energy believed to be behind Apple's 5MW fuel cell farm

post #1 of 27
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Bloom Energy, maker of the much-hyped "Bloom Box" energy server, is believed to be the supplier behind Apple's planned 5-megawatt fuel cell farm in North Carolina.

Up to 50 Bloom Boxes, each capable of supplying 100 killowatts of power, would meet Apple's advertised 5-megawatt capacity at the new fuel cell farm. Citing a few sources, GigaOm reported on Friday that Bloom Energy and its Bloom Boxes are in fact planned to be the power source at the forthcoming plant.

The new fuel cell farm is set to run on biogas, or methane from organic waste, as well as oxygen. Apple revealed last month that its Maiden, N.C., data center will feature the largest nonutility fuel cell installation in the U.S.

The fuel cell farm will provide more than 40 million kWh of 24x7 baseload renewable energy annually. When paired with the 20-megawatt solar farm Apple is also building, the data center will be the largest in its class with LEED Platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

Friday's report also claimed that beyond Apple's green data center in North Carolina, the company has also allegedly partnered with Bloom for "a few" fuel cells that are found on the company's Cupertino, Calif. campus.




The rumored partnership with Bloom is also seen as likely because the company is one of only a few that would even be capable of building such a large array of fuel cells. Bloom has previously secured a deal to build a 30-megawatt fuel cell farm with 300 Bloom Boxes in Delaware.

Apple first announced plans to build its massive $1 billion server farm in Maiden in 2009. The facility opened last spring, and it helps to power Apple's online operations, including the iCloud umbrella of Web applications and services, and the iTunes Store that serves up applications, music, movies, books and more.

[ View article on AppleInsider ]
post #2 of 27
Does anyone know what sorts of data is being hosted or served from that datacenter?

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post #3 of 27
Seems odd that it would be Bloom. They seem to be looking at installations closer to 2MW peak from what I can tell. Also didn't think they ran on swamp gas... but I guess it would just impact efficiency.
post #4 of 27
I'm not sure I get the picture. If the fuel cells are going to run on methane from organic waste, and the fuel cells are to be located at the data center, does that mean there is (or is going to be) a garbage dump or pig shit lake near the data center? or do they capture the methane somewhere else and transport it to the fuel cells? someone with knowledge please explain.
post #5 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by aaarrrgggh View Post

Seems odd that it would be Bloom. They seem to be looking at installations closer to 2MW peak from what I can tell. Also didn't think they ran on swamp gas... but I guess it would just impact efficiency.

I have heard of municipalities powering their sewage treatment plants with fuel cells running on the gases released from the chemical reactions of their treatment tanks. I don't understand yet how this is applicable to a data center.
post #6 of 27
Why wouldn't you use 2 FuelCell Energy 3000's from the leader in FuelCell technology?

DFC3000 (2.8 MW)
FuelCell Energys DFC3000® system is the largest of the DFC® power plant fleet, capable of providing high-quality baseload power up to 2.8 MW with 47% electrical efficiency. The power plant consists of six matched modular skids, and due to its innovative design, can be modified depending on the power requirements of the facility.
post #7 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Bloom Energy, maker of the much-hyped "Bloom Box" energy server, is believed to be the supplier behind Apple's planned 5-megawatt fuel cell farm in North Carolina.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scuzzl3 View Post

Why wouldn't you use 2 FuelCell Energy 3000's from the leader in FuelCell technology?

Well that settles it. It is definitely Bloom since a representative from the competition has confirmed that they did not get the contract.

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post #8 of 27
Of all Apple's decisions, this should be one its competitors should strive to copy. And I don't think Apple would mind if they did so.
post #9 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by marokero View Post

Of all Apple's decisions, this should be one its competitors should strive to copy. And I don't think Apple would mind if they did so.

There's an abundance of biogas coming from Microsoft's executive suite.
post #10 of 27
As the rest of the world is busy killing each other because of artificial scarcity, and still fighting stupid racial, religious, and political battles of yesteryear, Apple is just moving on.
post #11 of 27
In this case Google did this first, they are credited as being the first customer of Bloom Energy.
NoahJ
"It is unwise to be too sure of one's own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err." - Mahatma Gandhi
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NoahJ
"It is unwise to be too sure of one's own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err." - Mahatma Gandhi
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post #12 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by marokero View Post

Of all Apple's decisions, this should be one its competitors should strive to copy. And I don't think Apple would mind if they did so.

Google has been toying with them since at least 2010. ATT signed a contract with Bloom last year. I thinl Microsoft is also involved in some way, or perhaps it's Bill Gates himself as an investor? Can't find the citation for that one.
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post #13 of 27
Good for Apple.

If they can lead in green tech, other companies might follow.

It makes a lot of sense to add baseline power to the intermittent solar sources.
post #14 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by I am a Zither Zather Zuzz View Post

Good for Apple.

If they can lead in green tech, other companies might follow.

It makes a lot of sense to add baseline power to the intermittent solar sources.

No offense to Apple, but they're following here, not leading.
post #15 of 27
While this CAN run biogas, I suspect it will run good ol fashion natural gas. IMO, the main benefit of these local fuel cells is improved reliability from being on 'the grid'.
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post #16 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by NoahJ View Post

In this case Google did this first, they are credited as being the first customer of Bloom Energy.

I agree. They did lead here.

Quote:
Originally Posted by igxqrrl View Post

No offense to Apple, but they're following here, not leading.

Again, correct. See Bloom's customer list here -- Apple hasn't made their website yet: http://www.bloomenergy.com/customer-fuel-cell/
post #17 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

Again, correct. See Bloom's customer list here -- Apple hasn't made their website yet: http://www.bloomenergy.com/customer-fuel-cell/

Well that was probably part of the contract. Secrecy is their MO. I don't think we ever definitively learned who got the server hardware/software or backbone network provider contracts for the datacenter either. The article said it opened last spring but I did some trace routing and could not find any Apple services that lead to North Carolina.

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post #18 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

Well that was probably part of the contract. Secrecy is their MO. I don't think we ever definitively learned who got the server hardware/software or backbone network provider contracts for the datacenter either. The article said it opened last spring but I did some trace routing and could not find any Apple services that lead to North Carolina.

Nothing official. This is the closest to a confirmation that I've come across.
http://www.winsupersite.com/blog/sup...d-alone-139431
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post #19 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post

Nothing official. This is the closest to a confirmation that I've come across.
http://www.winsupersite.com/blog/sup...d-alone-139431

Please stop putting external links in your posts. They almost always lead to MS and Google related blogs which rarely have anything to do with the quoted text or the article.

I would prefer you did not respond to my posts in such a manner since I do not want to appear complicit in your participation in the discussion.

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post #20 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by quinney View Post

There's an abundance of biogas coming from Microsoft's executive suite.



Quote:
Originally Posted by MessagePad2100 View Post

As the rest of the world is busy killing each other because of artificial scarcity, and still fighting stupid racial, religious, and political battles of yesteryear, Apple is just moving on.

As is the nature of human existence, and perhaps all life in the universe. We exist as a "floating point". We (well some of us) can "perceive" incredibly small things like a quark all the way to infinite dimensions. Similarly, in the human mind/consciousness, we can perceive every second of a simple act like breathing, all the way to imagining the grandeur or the Divine.

That's why Mass Effect is really interesting. It's based on the concept that with the right "spark", humanity can achieve some pretty amazing stuff in a very short time, without losing its essence (the good parts, hopefully retained).

And perhaps that's why some of us here are like that. I don't think we're superior, or amazing, just somehow different. Maybe Science will one day quantify it, "intelligence" alone is not a measure. Being able to rise above poverty, prejudice and insular thinking... is something, I found out, quite rare in the world.

Quote:
Originally Posted by boeyc15 View Post

While this CAN run biogas, I suspect it will run good ol fashion natural gas. IMO, the main benefit of these local fuel cells is improved reliability from being on 'the grid'.

When can I get something like this for my (ground floor) apartment? I just need about 10kWh per day max. Combined with solar panels, it would be very attractive environmentally and economically.
post #21 of 27
Apple's clean energy plans are certainly beginning to Bloom
post #22 of 27
post #23 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

Please stop putting external links in your posts. They almost always lead to MS and Google related blogs which rarely have anything to do with the quoted text or the article.

Much of what I contribute to the forum wouldn't be accepted as accurate without links. It's not unusual that what I post goes against the "everyone knows" mentality, so I better bring proof.

As for linking mostly to Google or Microsoft blogs, that would be incorrect. FOSS, Groklaw, Ars and 9to5Mac are my normal go-to sources. In fact linking to anything connected to Microsoft is exceptionally rare. I don't have any MS-focused sites on my regular rounds. Even links to Google-centric sites isn't very common for me. Some here don't want to believe anything Google says, so using them as the source wouldn't be very convincing would it?

No, I generally use neutral or Apple-friendly source links if they're available.
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post #24 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by sunilraman View Post




When can I get something like this for my (ground floor) apartment? I just need about 10kWh per day max. Combined with solar panels, it would be very attractive environmentally and economically.

Environmentally, maybe. Economically, certainly not.

No renewable energy source (except maybe hydro) is cheaper than a sulfur spewing coal plant. None are cheaper than an oil-fired plant. None are cheaper than a natural gas fired turbine generator.

Your best bet is to increase insulation first. That is where you get bang for your buck. Efficiency is the cheapest way to save on energy costs.

Do you have thick drapes? Do you have fresh caulk around every window? Have you weatherstripped all your doors? Put your money there first.

People love this exotic stuff. But the mundane stuff is the most effective for saving on fuel costs.
post #25 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by I am a Zither Zather Zuzz View Post

Environmentally, maybe. Economically, certainly not.

No renewable energy source (except maybe hydro) is cheaper than a sulfur spewing coal plant. None are cheaper than an oil-fired plant. None are cheaper than a natural gas fired turbine generator.

Your best bet is to increase insulation first. That is where you get bang for your buck. Efficiency is the cheapest way to save on energy costs.

Do you have thick drapes? Do you have fresh caulk around every window? Have you weatherstripped all your doors? Put your money there first.

People love this exotic stuff. But the mundane stuff is the most effective for saving on fuel costs.

Well, I'm just renting now, but the apartment complex (9 units, all ground floor) is quite intelligently designed. I've got a high ceiling for the main living area, and well insulated 1 bedroom. They also figured out all the lighting, and along with the back garden, it's pretty good. The windows are not super fantastic but they are well insulated. I have blinds instead of drapes, they work alright.

I agree it's not sexy, but we should cover those bases. Next up though is solar, which I hope will increase in affordability because once we hit a certain point it will be a no brainer.

As for natural gas, maybe not a bloom box but natural gas for water and home heating and cooking, is a much more attractive opportunity. So maybe not much point converting it to electricity with a Bloom Box for the house if we've got gas for the above. It definitely reduces the cost, at least here in Australia. Electrical water heating, home heating and cooking is unnecessarily power inneficient and expensive.

[petrol means gasoline, gas means gas]

So given a good cocktail of energy, we can make a difference. Chevy Volt recharged by solar panels during the day, petrol as the backup. Solar panels in the house with battery capactiy for anything electrical. Natural or bio gas for home heating (there are simple small heaters running on gas right now), water heating, stove and oven. Sweet. In 20 years I can't imagine this kind of stuff including more hybrids ~not~ being the norm. Along with efficiency (hey we've seen lighting and computing drop by an order of magnitude in just 10 years), I think in developed countries the path forward is quite clear. The rest of the world though, I'm really not so sure. So this is where I make my bastion.
post #26 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by quinney View Post

I'm not sure I get the picture. If the fuel cells are going to run on methane from organic waste, and the fuel cells are to be located at the data center, does that mean there is (or is going to be) a garbage dump or pig shit lake near the data center? or do they capture the methane somewhere else and transport it to the fuel cells? someone with knowledge please explain.

Chances are that they'll initially run on natural gas first since the cost is historically low. Having such a large installation can allow Apple to experiment using one or two boxes with biogas, and ramp up as they feel comfortable with the cost and efficiency. Getting the actual biogas should be no trouble, as North Carolina is pig country.
post #27 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Scuzzl3 View Post

Why wouldn't you use 2 FuelCell Energy 3000's from the leader in FuelCell technology?

DFC3000 (2.8 MW)
FuelCell Energys DFC3000® system is the largest of the DFC® power plant fleet, capable of providing high-quality baseload power up to 2.8 MW with 47% electrical efficiency. The power plant consists of six matched modular skids, and due to its innovative design, can be modified depending on the power requirements of the facility.

Joined the forums this month and have 1 post (this one). Thinly veiled marketing spam-post; reads like it was copy-pasted from a brochure.

My favorite part is this:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Scuzzl3 View Post

... consists of six matched modular skids

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