AT&T has announced a planned additional 9.6 MW of fuel cell power from clean energy provider Bloom Energy. The new installations will make AT&T Bloom Energy's largest non-utility customer.
In July 2011, AT&T announced an initial contract with Bloom Energy to deploy 7.5 megawatts (MW) of "Bloom Boxes" at 11 AT&T sites in California including data centers. With today's announcement, AT&T will now have 17.1 MW of Bloom Energy Servers helping to power 28 AT&T sites in California and Connecticut. Once fully operational, all of AT&T's Bloom Box installations are expected to produce more than 149 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity annually, enough to power more than 13,680 homes per year.
"AT&T continues to be on the forefront of energy management and understands the need to find innovative ways to power the next generation," said KR Sridhar, CEO of Bloom Energy. "The investment they are making now not only means they will have control on their own energy destiny, but will also help ensure a brighter and more energy rich future for all."
Bloom Boxes contain stacked fuel cells that convert air and natural gas into electricity through a clean electrochemical process. Use of this power reduces carbon emissions by approximately 50 percent compared to the grid and virtually eliminates all SOx, NOx, and other harmful smog forming particulate emissions.
"A key differentiator for fuel cells compared to other forms of alternative power is that fuel cell electricity production is virtually constant," explained John Schinter, AT&T's senior energy director. "They provide steady recurring electricity production at a relatively predictable cost, replacing the traditional electricity bill, which can be volatile."
Bloom Box installations fit into AT&T's three pronged approach to energy management—alternative energy where cost comparable, company-wide energy efficiency projects and effective collaboration to develop best practices in energy management—which is described in AT&T's recently released, 2011 Sustainability Report. In addition to Bloom Energy fuel cells, AT&T has deployed nearly 3.9 MW of solar installations and works with external groups, such as the Environmental Defense Fund and Rocky Mountain Institute to investigate highly-scalable energy efficiency projects. These initiatives build on AT&T's energy management work, through which the company completed 8,700 energy efficiency projects that led to an annualized savings of $86 million in 2010 and 2011.