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With all the hype surrounding Bloom Energy's recent announcement, I dug through the hype to see just how much of a game changer this could be.

For those of you who don't know, Bloom Energy is a company that's been developing localized static fuel cell technology.  In other words, micro-generators for your home or business.  No, it's not a Mr. Fusion Home Fusion Kit, but it's a step in that direction.

More over the fold.

In a recent announcement, Bloom Energy's CEO K.R. Sridhar, a former NASA fuel cell PhD, announced that not only have they created a fuel cell that runs on natural gas or biogas, but companies such as google have been using them for over a year.  Using natural gas, they generate electricity at $0.08 to $0.10 per kwh, or roughly half the cost of getting it from a power company in the more expensive areas of the us (mainly the NE corridor).

The good part is they generate electricity without noise, at least as efficiently as generating station-size NG generators, and with half the emissions.  In addition, since the gas continues to flow when the power is out, it effectively functions as a UPS (Uninterruptable Power Source).

The bad part is the only units available are 100kw units the size of a mid sized car, and cost $700,000 to $800,000 each.  How much is 100kw?  To put it in perspective, you could run roughly 20 houses off of a single 100kw unit.

The goal is to have a brick sized unit that costs $3000 and generates 5kw.  Assuming $0.15 per kwh electric rate and a $1.18/therm natural gas cost (both the current rates where I live), you would save $0.077 per kwh using the bloom box, for a rough payback time of 4 years.  This assumes you'll be using only natural gas as a fuel source.  If you can generate your own biofuel, such as ethanol or hydrogen, your electricity would be free.  There's been much speculation that a bloom box supplementing a solar/wind setup would make off grid living much easier and cheaper.

Another long term goal for the Bloom Box is to bring cheap, affordable power to places that don't have easy access to electricity.  The developing world has been in the sights of Bloom Energy since day one.

I think this is a great advance in technology, but not quite a revolutionary one, at least, not yet.  Though I can safely say that as soon as a $3000 brick can be tied into my house grid, you can bet I'll be the first on my block to have one.

Originally posted to Canatheist on Mon Mar 01, 2010 at 07:50 AM PST.

Poll

Will the Bloom Box change everything?

28%24 votes
2%2 votes
21%18 votes
15%13 votes
14%12 votes
17%15 votes

| 84 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  You didn't discuss the biggest potential of all; (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    badger, wblynch, Kid G, Ralpheelou

    replacing internal combustion engines in cars.  Unlike NG generating stations that are 50-60% efficient, car engines are about 20% efficient.  So targeting automobiles instead of stationary power sources would give the biggest environmental bang for your buck. You could triple the efficiency of your car, although the CO2 decrease would not be quite as dramatic because alcohol and NG have a lower energy density than gasoline.

    If you put one of these babies into a hybrid, where the battery is large enough to handle instantaneous peak demand and the fuel cell only has to satisfy average demand, you'd be looking at a hugely efficient automobile.

    Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room!

    by bigtimecynic on Mon Mar 01, 2010 at 08:13:42 AM PST

    •  I thought about that, but after digging in... (5+ / 0-)

      This technology has a few drawbacks for automotive applications.

      1. Too big (a 5kw box may only be the size of a brick, but eve with a battery for peak power you'd need at least 50kw sustained).
      1. Too hot, they operate at 800C.
      1. CNG isn't that great an energy source.
      1. This was never meant as an automotive application.

      The automotive companies are already farther ahead on smaller, lower-temp fuel cells that run on hydrogen, which have their own issues.

      I'm not even sure a fuel cell car will ever be practical.  I'm much more convinced that a battery breakthrough will end that particular technological application in cars.

      •  800C !?! Holy cow, I missed that part! (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JeffW

        That's 1500 degrees F.  I guess that's how they are able to do away with the exotic metals, which usually act as catalysts to lower the required temperature of reaction. I don't see the size being a problem (10 bricks together are still smaller than an engine), but that temperature thing is definitely a hazard if careening down the road at 70 mph.

        Personally I don't hold out a lot of hope for hydrogen as a fuel source for cars in the near term, since it has to be formulated from raw sources like petroleum or NG. So in that regard it is kind of like corn ethanol; environmentally beneficial only until you look at the actual life cycle. Once we have commercial scale breakthroughs in affordable electrolysis of water, however, hydrogen will become a real solution. I think the future of fuel cells will be NG and alcohol, because those are much more practical fuels than H2.

        Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room!

        by bigtimecynic on Mon Mar 01, 2010 at 09:08:36 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  "Breakthoroughs" like what? (0+ / 0-)

          Hydrogen is just a very inefficient way to use electricity.  Fuel cell vehicles are 1/4 to 1/2 as efficient as electric vehicles when the energy source is electricity.  So they just make no sense.

          •  But you are comparing apples to oranges. (0+ / 0-)

            I don't see fuel cells as competing with batteries; but rather I see them being complementary.  This is the approach of the upcoming Chevy Volt, an electric car with an on-board gasoline-powered emergency generator that can get you home (or drive you around indefinitely) by powering the electric drive motor if the 40-mile battery runs out before you can recharge from the grid.  A fuel cell would be a great substitute for that gas engine range extender.  

            BTW, the breakthrough I mentioned was in reference to a recent MIT electrolysis catalyst that allowed the researchers to generate hydrogen from water with a much lower amount of electricity than normal.  Advancements like this are sure to keep coming. The day we can create hydrogen efficiently from, say, sea water using a solar panel, will be a day that both hydrogen and solar take a leap forward. It would make hydrogen affordable and truly green, while solving the energy storage problem of solar.

            Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room!

            by bigtimecynic on Mon Mar 01, 2010 at 12:50:58 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Not really (0+ / 0-)

              I don't see fuel cells as competing with batteries; but rather I see them being complementary.  This is the approach of the upcoming Chevy Volt, an electric car with an on-board gasoline-powered emergency generator that can get you home (or drive you around indefinitely) by powering the electric drive motor if the 40-mile battery runs out before you can recharge from the grid.

              The generator is designed so you can recharge your vehicle on our existing infrastructure.  If you're going to have to build an entire new infrastructure (ala hydrogen), you might as well just use fast charge electric stations.  They're cheaper to build, cheaper to operate, almost as fast to fill, and way more efficient.  Plus don't involve storing explosive gasses under extreme pressures in urban areas.  As for the vehicles, hydrogen fuel cells are an order of magnitude more expensive than modern automotive-style li-ion batteries and fuel cells have half the lifespan of modern automotive-style  batteries.

              BTW, the breakthrough I mentioned was in reference to a recent MIT electrolysis catalyst that allowed the researchers to generate hydrogen from water with a much lower amount of electricity than normal.

              Yes, I've read the paper.

              1. First off, what is being talked about in that paper is an alternative for one of the electrodes in the cell.  And not the platinum one, either (the expensive one).  So that's only part of the losses in the electrolysis setup.  The electrolysis setup is in turn only part of the total system losses -- there's also compression and/or liquefaction losses, transport losses (higher than electricity transport losses), and fuel cell losses (the biggest).  A standalone H2 fuel cell with pre-compressed hydrogen and pre-compressed oxygen at low power outputs can get upwards of 70% efficiency, but in real-world fuel cells breathing air and under real-world driving conditions, it's more in the 30-45% efficiency range.
              1. Secondly, the "near 100% efficiency" remark is about the efficiency of the reaction at that electrode only.
              1. The reaction takes additional energy to start and continue which isn't recovered.
              1. The electrode, as it exists, only works at low levels of power.
              1. It's not actually that big of an improvement over existing electrodes.  Its primary improvement is changing the need for an either highly acidic or basic solution.  The efficiency improvement is only in comparison to one class of electrodes.

              Electricity is the common denominator.  It will always be cheapest to store and use electricity directly rather than to route it through tangential chemical processes.

  •  Rec'd (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Larsstephens, Ralpheelou

    I saw this yesterday and was impressed. I'm surprised more Kossacks aren't all over this. Thanks for writing this.

  •  OK, for this technology to be feasibly (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Quicklund, bryfry, axel000, Ralpheelou

    one must be tied into "the grid" . . .

    Though I can safely say that as soon as a $3000 brick can be tied into my house grid

    Which kinda raises the point - if electricity is going to be generated via natural gas oxidation (either good old fashioned combustion or via new fuel cell technologies) - can this been done more efficiently at a micro level or at the macro level?

    The $0.08 generation costs you mention would suggest the latter . . .

    •  That's the point of the Bloom Box. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Quicklund

      It's efficient even in very small stacks.  Since their "big" box is a 100kw unit, the implication is that it can work at any size.

      If the price per unit scales linearly, the only variable is the cost of the natural gas or other fuel.  Which, if you buy in bulk, is less expensive.

      As long as you can convert 7c worth of NG into 15c worth of electricity, the home application is worthwhile.  Those numbers can change, however.  Who knows where prices will be in the next 5-10 years?

      Stay tuned.

  •  Not convinced yet (5+ / 0-)

    It runs on natural gas, so this technology is still a greenhouse polluter, and still exposes the home owner to fossil fuel pricing.  Natural Gas supplies are relatively tight too, and the chemical industry is a major customer.

    Hope it is a success, but I don't know if it is more efficient to burn gas at home to generate electricity or just get electricity from a gas power station.

    I think the power station could be better regulated by the EPA, and invest in better pollution controls if mandated...

    Government for the people, by the people

    by axel000 on Mon Mar 01, 2010 at 08:18:49 AM PST

    •  There's been a lot of press about that. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Angie in WA State, JeffW

      Essentially, large-scale CNG electric generators are about the same efficiency as a Bloom Box. BUT - with home generation, there are no power line losses (about 7%), and the Bloom Box produces about half the emissions, so in a CNG-in vs usable power output equation, the bloom box wins even without the reduced pollution factored in.

      So yes, you're still polluting, but only half as much.

      You can't run a CNG generator on biofuel, either.

      •  does it produce half the emissions? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Quicklund, Rei

        if the efficiency is the same, that means the same amount of chemical energy (natural gas being oxidized) is being converted into the same amount of electrical energy. So the amount of CO2 produced would be the same.

        it would produce less CO2 than a coal plant, but so would a natural gas turbine.

        unless I misunderstand how fuel cells work.

        Intellectually I know that America is no better than any other country; emotionally I know she is better than every other country. ~Sinclair Lewis

        by SaMx on Mon Mar 01, 2010 at 09:32:17 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  The difference is how the fuel is converted. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JeffW, axel000

          In a combined cycle NG turbine (by far the smallest number, but the standard for new installs), the gas is burned to turn a turbine, much like a jet engine.  The waste heat is then used to turn a secondary steam driven turbine.  Combusting the fuel released a fair bit of carbon dioxide due to the combustion process.   Between the two processes you get about 50% efficiency, but combined cycle turbines are absolutely NOT scalable.

          In the Bloom Box, the fuel cell produces less carbon dioxide because the process is chemical and does not include combustion of any kind.

          On top of that, if you use biofuel, it's essentially carbon neutral, a claim no large generator that uses the same fuels can claim.

          •  That makes no sense (0+ / 0-)

            Energy is energy.  It doesn't matter how you're converting NG + O2 to electricity.  If you get the same amount of electricity and get the same efficiency, you're using the same amount of NG, the same amount of O2, and releasing the same amount of CO2.  Period.

            •  It's the process. (0+ / 0-)

              Here are the raw numbers:

              Average US CNG plant pounds of C02 per kwh: 3.65.

              Math: 562,433,000,000 kwh/337,004,000,000 kg = 1.66 kg per kwh or 3.65lbs per kwh.  (I got these numbers here.)

              Bloom Box pounds of C02 per kwh: .773

              Math: 733lbs.Mwh / 1000 = .773 lbs/kwh.  (I got these numbers here.)

              Obviously, HOW you make the power matters a great deal on how much C02 you release.

              •  No, it doesn't. (0+ / 0-)

                Look, the laws of physics are the laws of physics.  You can't change that.  If anyone cites numbers in violation of the laws of physics, the numbers cited are wrong

                You're conflating a whole bunch of misconceptions together to arrive at ane even bigger misconception.  The average CNG plant in the US is not combined cycle.  Nor is the average CNG plant in the US used for baseload (it's used for peaking, and peaking is lower efficiency than baseload -- bloom or not).  Should I keep going?

                The facts are that combined cycle CNG plants are about 1/20th the cost of a bloom box and more efficient to boot, as well as having three times the lifespan of the unit, ten times the lifespan of the cells, AND getting the NG at a cheaper rate.  There's just no comparison.

                And once again, let me reiterate: the laws of physics are not going to give way for you or anyone else.  CH4 + 2 O2 = CO2 + 2 H2O, whether burned or converted in a fuel cell, and will always give off the same amount of energy, whether converted to electricity or heat (the percent to each is defined by the generator's efficiency).

  •  I'm kind of in the middle on this technology. (5+ / 0-)

    Some experts are saying that they're selling a pipe dream right now, and that they are underselling what the real costs are for this box.

    I would like to see it happen, and I hope they are succesful, because realistically a technological change in the way we take in energy is the only thing that is going to save the planet right now.  Sorry, but there are far too many Americans that will never give a shit about greenhouse gasses to make efficiency concerns (and going green for that matter) to ever make the dent that is required in emissions.

    Do not ever look at my Twitter feed! @Ralpheelou

    by Ralpheelou on Mon Mar 01, 2010 at 08:18:51 AM PST

    •  Compare and contrast: (0+ / 0-)

      Combined cycle gas turbine: ~$0.40/W capital costs
      Bloom box: $8/W capital costs

      Combined cycle gas plant: ~60% efficient
      Bloom box: 50-55% efficient

      Combined cycle gas plant: Buys NG at bulk rates
      Bloom box: Buys NG at commercial rates

      You could say that the bloom box benefits from smaller electricity delivery losses, but those are smaller to begin with, and correspond with higher NG pumping losses for residential delivery.

      It just doesn't even come close to making sense.

      •  Hrmm... (0+ / 0-)

        I tried to find the numbers you used, but I couldn't.  Please cite.

        Consider that a Bloom Box is a relatively new technology, and they have admitted they are nowhere near mature technologically.

        And yes, they're expensive today, but if they hit their target of a 5kw box for $3000, that's only $.60/W capital costs, with none of the maintenance that a full scale plant requires.  Gotta love solid state.

        •  Numbers (0+ / 0-)

          but if they hit their target of a 5kw box for $3000

          And if a magical unicorn shoots rainbows out of its eyes causing single payer healthcare to become established....

          That's orders of magnitude changes, on a tech that is not new.  Don't hold your breath.

          I tried to find the numbers you used, but I couldn't.  Please cite.

          Actually, let me add one more number for you:

          Combined cycle gas turbine: ~30 year lifespan
          Bloom box: ~10 year lifespan for the unit, ~3-4 years for the cells.

          For bloom box refs, Here.  For an example of a combined cycle NG plant, check out the Chouteau Power Plant.

          •  I checked out your links. (0+ / 0-)

            I see now where you got your efficiency numbers, but nothing on the cost of the station in question, so I still don't have an answer as to where your 40c/w capital costs comes from.

            I see you're not being completely honest about your numbers - in the article you cited, Google said that they expect payback in about 3 years. A 3 year payback is the kind of ROI most investors dream of.  Can you cite any power plants that pay for themselves in 3 years?

            So much for this technology being impractical.

            •  Tax credits (0+ / 0-)

              in the article you cited, Google said that they expect payback in about 3 years.

              First off, that was eBay.  Second, that's due to massive federal and state tax credits that cut down the price by over half.  Wind and solar installers could only dream of getting credits that big.

              A 3 year payback is the kind of ROI most investors dream of.

              Not when your fuel cells only last for three years.  And even Bloom says 3-5 years.  With credits, and only in their target markets (CA and New England, where electricity is expensive).  As for companies like Google and Ebay, Bloom approached them to use them as beta sites and has done all of the maintenance for them.  They signed on for the positive PR, to be the first on the block to have a fuel cell.

              I see now where you got your efficiency numbers, but nothing on the cost of the station in question, so I still don't have an answer as to where your 40c/w capital costs comes from.

              Are you really that lazy?  "The 522-megawatt, gas-fired power plant -- built at a cost of $230 million" -- Fifth hit from the top.  Actually 44 cents, but Chouteau was a little bit over-budget.

  •  If nothing else, the Bloom Energy Folk (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    esquimaux, Quicklund, bryfry, Rei, axel000

    are marketing geniuses (genii?).

    After all, what they describe is essentially fuel cell technology that has been under development for decades - without a whole lot of success.

    Of course, perhaps the time has now come for this technology.  Or, perhaps this is just a new way to suck investors into "the next big thing"

  •  The more ways we have to get energy (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Quicklund, JeffW, axel000

    the less any group will be able to overcharge us.

    I wonder how the $3,000 cell would work with an all electric home?  I could buy a butane tank and convert it, if that would work.

    My electric bill is about $300 a month now, so it would pay for itself in a year for my family.  

    We had gotten the cost down to a lot less than that then we had a motor fan that was almost locked up tht may have ran the kilowatts up.  We are hoping the bill will drop, since we replaced that motor.  We also did extra insulating this year.

    We have worked to bring down our home energy costs for many years since we are victims of Blanch Lincoln's forced butane charges.  Companies in Missouri charge half as much for butane, but AR butane companies aren't allowed to charge less according to some law in AR.  That is what I was told about 20 years ago.  I guess it is still that way.  My mother lived in Missouri and bought from the same company as I did and the price was exactly double on my bill.  The company was located in MO, so it may have been some anti competitive deal.

    Our next door neighbor is a CEO of a butane company.  He is not hurting.

    We need Health Care not Wealth Care.

    by relentless on Mon Mar 01, 2010 at 08:28:08 AM PST

    •  The thing is, it's not a $3000 cell. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      axel000

      That's their magical far-future concept that requires orders of magnitude cost reduction.  That's like saying solar cells for $0.15/W.

      •  I think Walmart is involved in (0+ / 0-)

        Bloom energy.  Even if they did it in sections of the community to fit the smallest cells they could create, even if the cost was more, it would be divided between people, so it would work.

        We need Health Care not Wealth Care.

        by relentless on Mon Mar 01, 2010 at 02:23:23 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  The only people it makes sense for... (0+ / 0-)

          are people who want a "green" demonstration and image.  That includes Wal-mart.  It's not even close to making financial sense.

          Even if they did it in sections of the community to fit the smallest cells they could create, even if the cost was more, it would be divided between people, so it would work.

          Or, you could divide the output of a combined cycle gas plant between people and get your infrastructure for 1/20th the cost, 3 times the unit lifespan, 10 times the cell lifespan, higher efficiency, and get your natural gas at bulk rates.

          •  Those of us who do not live in town (0+ / 0-)

            do not have access to natural gas or city electric.  Utilities are twice as high outside the city.  We have butane gas and a high cost electric company to choose from.  

            Even though we live on the edge of Missouri, they can't sell us butane for the same price as they sell it for in Missouri, so we pay double what those over in Missouri pay for butane.

            We need Health Care not Wealth Care.

            by relentless on Tue Mar 02, 2010 at 02:54:01 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  You don't have access to NG... (0+ / 0-)

              but you want a device powered by NG?  Could you please explain that one?

              Anyway, it'd be cheaper to set up a whole solar and/or wind install of the same average output and a battery bank and/or backup generator than to buy one of these.  And then never have to buy fuel again.

  •  At most it will be a stop gap measure. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Quicklund, axel000

    Natural Gas is one of the things we are running out of.  Bio gas wastes agricultural land growing crops to convert to energy, threatens food crop availabiliy and pricing, and may not work out as it may require almost as much energy to manufacture as it puts out once built.

    (An aside regarding biofuels, I read that the paper products companies are already using much of the "Green" simulus funds to enter the business of cutting  and burning trees in the present and new biogas plants, since the construction industry in a lull.  Does America want to lose more forests just to drive automobiles?)

    I will be a measure that will let the culture buy a little more time to adjust to truly renewable sources of enery like solar, wind, and geothermal or hydroelectric.

    As a country we will need to be sure that new technology is worth the investment and is not part of a Green Bubble that will burst like the housing and tech bubles.  Some new technologies, as this one sounds like, will be an interim source of power to get us over initial changes on the way to the whole new way of living that loss of oil and gas will require of the world's civilizations.

    2.5 trillion dollars have been "borrowed" since the [SS] system was "reformed" in the 80s and they simply don't want to pay it back. - dKos Blogger -

    by Silverbird on Mon Mar 01, 2010 at 08:33:54 AM PST

    •  Bloom is overly secretive about its tech (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Silverbird, JeffW, axel000

      So claims a small story in my local paper today. Analysts are supposedly very skeptical that the Bloom company is doing anything frastically different with fuel cell tech. These analysts are very skeptical about Bloom's predicted price drops.

      Bottom line is fuel cells are NOT an energy source.  Theare not and they never will be unless someone discovers a source of mineable hydrogen. Otherwise fuel cells are just one of several ways to store energy - like batteries do.

      Widspread use of fuel cells might well offer some incremental advantages ocer the status quo.  That alone might be enough to make them very important technology. But it is indeed most likely a form of stop-gap. Safe/efficient fusion and/or solar energy sources still remain the most likely new sources of raw energy.

      •  fuel cells can run on natural gas (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Quicklund, JeffW, axel000

        which is what the bloom box normally runs on.

        On the other hand, I've seen data that suggests it operates at around 52% efficiency, which makes it less efficient than combined cycle gas turbines.

        Intellectually I know that America is no better than any other country; emotionally I know she is better than every other country. ~Sinclair Lewis

        by SaMx on Mon Mar 01, 2010 at 09:26:41 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Methane is an established energy source (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          axel000

          It shares the same problems of all fossil fuels - it is available in limited quantities and it causes polution. Fuel cells may (or not) provide incrmental improvments in power efficiency and poluitants, but the bottome line is fuel cells and campfire both still burn carbon for power.

        •  The advantage of a fuel cell stack... (0+ / 0-)

          ...is fewer moving parts, which may translate into more up-time.

          Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

          by JeffW on Mon Mar 01, 2010 at 10:58:09 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  If it was really good... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Quicklund, bryfry, axel000

    ...the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago would be installing these puppies to power its sewage treatment plants from digester gas. When that happens, I'll be a believer!

    Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

    by JeffW on Mon Mar 01, 2010 at 08:59:24 AM PST

  •  If my home has reverse electric metering... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Larsstephens, axel000

    and I bought one of those big 100kw units, and I ran the excess production continuously back into the grid, how long would it take to recoup THAT investment?

    An exasperated member of the Kick Me Party.

    by Jimdotz on Mon Mar 01, 2010 at 09:50:28 AM PST

    •  I'll tacke this. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Jimdotz, JeffW, Larsstephens, axel000

      Assumptions:

      $750,000 base unit.
      Price per kwh you get from the power company: 15c/kwh
      Cost of NG to power unit: 7.5c/kwh
      Unit output: 100 kw
      Average house use: 5 kw
      Net sold back to utility: 95 kw
      Net profit per kwh: 7.5c
      Net profit per hour: $7.12
      Number of hours to break even: 105,337 or 4,389 days or 12.02 years.

      As major utility plants go, a 12 year payback isn't too bad.  Some are amortized over 20 years or more, since the initial investment is so massive.

      Also note, this doesn't include cost of plumbing and installation, just the alleged unit cost.

      •  Wow, thanks! I was guessing 10-15 years... (3+ / 0-)

        so maybe this is something to think about seriously.

        An exasperated member of the Kick Me Party.

        by Jimdotz on Mon Mar 01, 2010 at 10:58:18 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Errors (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Jimdotz, bryfry, axel000
        1. The unit as a whole only has a 10-year life.
        1. The fuel cells themselves (the most expensive part) need to be replaced every 3-4 years.
        1. The average price of home electricity in the US is $0.10/kWh, not $0.15/kWh.
        1. Net metering -- if it even exists where you are -- does not equal "net sale".  And it's unreasonable to think that it would, since the price utilities sell power to you is a more than it costs them to make it, in order to pay for hardware, infrastructure, salaries, and profit.

        It's just a completely illogical purchase.  Combined cycle NG plants cost about $0.40/W (vs. $8/W) and are more efficient.  And even for home installs, at $8/W, you'd be better off buying solar or wind and a battery bank and/or a backup conventional generator.  And then not having to buy fuel at all.

        •  Good point, looking at capital cost vs long term (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Larsstephens

          savings in a household's energy bill, wouldn't a full blown solar solution work out better in the sunnier states ?

          Government for the people, by the people

          by axel000 on Mon Mar 01, 2010 at 01:31:47 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Cites? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Larsstephens
          1. Please cite.  Couldn't find this information.  Assuming it's correct, yes, that would change everything.
          1. Please cite.  Again, assuming it's correct, it would change everything.
          1. I wasn't, nor was ever claiming to use average US electric cost.  It's 15.5c where I live, today, on my current bill.  YMMV.  Same way with the 7.5c/therm of NG.
          1. MD has net zero metering, so producing more than I need is pointless.  It's annual, however, so in the spring and fall my credits would go towards summer and winter.

          I've had a solar install looked at for my house, and even with all the tax breaks it's too costly.  If the price comes down (or my rates go up) about another 25% it will be worthwhile financially.

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