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AT&T doubles Bloom Energy fuel cell contract

Posting in Energy

AT&T is adding 9.6 megawatts of fuel cell power from Bloom Energy, more than doubling its existing contract with the Silicon Valley startup.

AT&T signed an initial contract with Bloom Energy in July 2011 to deploy 7.5 MW of Bloom Boxes at 11 sites in California, including data centers. AT&T will now have 17.1 MW of Bloom Energy servers helping to power 28 sites in California and Connecticut, the companies said in a statement. In total, the installations are expected to produce more than 149 million kilowatt hours of electricity annually, enough to power more than 13,680 homes per year.

The decision, which was announced this week, makes the communications giant Bloom Energy's largest corporate customer.

Bloom Energy makes solid oxide fuel cells, which are assembled by the thousands into an energy server or Bloom box. The parking space-size Bloom box converts fuel like natural gas or biogas into electricity. Using fuel cell power reduces carbon emissions by about 50 percent compared to the grid and virtually eliminates sulfur oxide, nitrogen oxide and other smog forming particulate emissions, Bloom said.

AT&T isn't purchasing the Bloom Boxes. Instead, the company will buy the electricity generated from the Bloom boxes through a long-term power purchase agreement.

Earlier this year, Bloom Energy launched a new business division to take advantage of the skyrocketing demand for energy-intensive data centers. Bloom Energy is the fuel cell provider for a nearly 5-MW installation at Apple’s $1 billion data center in Maiden, North Carolina. The next phase of eBay's flagship data center in Utah also will be powered by a 6-MW installation consisting of 30 Bloom Energy servers.

Photo: Bloom Energy

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— By on October 4, 2012, 10:21 AM PST

Kirsten Korosec

Contributing Editor

Kirsten Korosec has written for Technology Review, Marketing News, The Hill, BNET and Bloomberg News. She holds a degree from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. She is based in Tucson, Arizona. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure