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Will Power Plants Go the Way of the Main Frame?

November 20, 2009 in Communication

PCs and the web have opened up information over the last 15 years. And now we stand on the threshold of an energy revolution of the same or greater magnitude. Everyone expects this to include alternative energy and smart grids. One of the drawbacks of these envisioned approaches is the long distance transport of electricity from the Great Plains and the Midwest to the energy markets on the East and West Coasts. Bloom Energy has come up with solid oxide fuel cells that can run everything from plant wastes to natural gas. The CEO of Bloom, K.R. Sridhar, has field tested Bloom boxes for two years and says that his company is ready to go to the global market with a product that is cost competitive with our current electric energy systems. For example,  a 5 KW Bloom box the size of a coffee table can power a 5000 square foot home. According to Lane Wallace at the Atlantic Monthly, the ultimate killer app is:

Processing wind- or solar generated with water to create storable oxygen and hydrogen then reversing the process to generate electricity at night or in low-wind or cloudy conditions.

Bloom boxes can operate independently of any power grid. They can be set up anywhere and operate on anything with carbon and hydrogen in them. Used in conjunction with windpower  they can generate and store energy to be used at times of low energy. What it all means is that power plants and power lines could go the way of the main frame.

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