Saturday, March 27, 2010

Bloom ups their efficiency claims

The Green Machine has been one busy boy. I contacted Bloom Energy and alerted them to possible errors in their web site regarding their claimed carbon dioxide emission of 773 pounds per megawatt hour. They must have investigated me and whether I was a green authority. They responded to my inquiry and in fact had their carbon emissions guru call me three days ago. I spoke with Mr. Peter Light and he informed me that the Bloom Box is 57% efficient and that the heat rate of 661,000 BTU per 100 kilowatt hours is based on the Higher Heating Value of natural gas. I asked him for written confirmation of the data he provided in the phone call and I received an email from him today that reconfirmed these values. He also wrote in his email that Bloom will guarantee under contract customers this level of efficiency and natural gas usage. I also have data from a third party that I believe to be reputable that Bloom has guaranteed the efficiency of their device at only 50%. Of course the Green Machine is not going to refute a claim given to him in writing by the emissions guru at Bloom. The actual efficiency and the actual carbon dioxide emissions will soon be established by the operating data collected on installed Bloom Boxes. My educated opinion is that it will be no more than 52%

As I have a range of the possible emissions based on the range of efficiency from 50% to 57%, I am able to model how expensive the reduction in carbon dioxide emissions will be for the tax payers who live in California. Why is it a cost to the tax payers in California? That is because the State of California and the Federal government are heavily subsidizing the Bloom Box with tax credits and rapid depreciation schedules. EBAY, Google and other Bloom Box customers pay less income tax by applying the tax credits and rapid depreciation against their profits. My model is a comparison of the Bloom Box against a Caterpillar Natural Gas Engine Generator of the same output. The owner of the Gas Engine Generator is not given investment tax credits and does not have as large a depreciation shield as the Gas Engine Generator only costs one tenth that of the Bloom Box. With assumption that the Bloom Box will cost $10,000 per kilowatt of installed power compared with $1,000 for the Gas Engine Generator, I have calculated that in total over five years the combined State of California and US Government subsidy of the Bloom Box equates to $2,194 per ton of reduced carbon dioxide if the Bloom Box is 50% efficient and $1,234 per ton of reduced carbon dioxide if the Bloom Box is 57% efficient.

In both cases these are massive subsidies and are a real waste of tax payers’ money. Actually in the case of California that unlike the US Government cannot print money, the give away is simply taking away funds that could well be used for the education of our children. Of course Alfalfa helped steer the subsidies on the Bloom Box and was ably assisted by the Jolly Green Giant Governator.

If the government really wanted to lower carbon emissions at a cost of $2,194 per ton of avoided carbon dioxide they can send me $6,582 a year as I saved 3 tons of carbon emissions by vanpooling. Of course I will never see this money as Alfalfa did not invest in my van and I don’t have Colin Powell as a member of the board. Remember the old TV ads that asked "Coffee, Tea or a flick of my BIC?" Well mad tax payers can have Coffee Parties, Tea Parties. or BIC Parties. BIC Parties are the most extravagant as BIC stands for Bloom Is Collecting. Problem is they are collecting your dough and all you will get served is shortbread.


  1. Just a point. If their calculations were made with the HHV of natural gas it is possible that they received an efficiency of 57%. However the HHV does not take into account the loss of heat energy due to the vaporization of water. The combustion of CH4 or pure methane (natural gas) forms H20 and CO2. That water that forms is vaporized in the combustion process. The Lower Heating Value or LHV is the actual usable heat energy of the fuel and for natural gas is about 11% lower than the HHV.