Bloom Energy, which makes high tech fuel cells, announced that it is setting up a manufacturing facility on the old Chrysler site in Newark. The company will eventually employ 900 workers, and may attract as many as 600 jobs with suppliers. The project will employ 350 construction workers starting this year.
The fuel cells, called Bloom Energy Servers or Bloom Boxes, combine fuel such as methane with air to directly and efficiently generate electricity. The fuel cells emit far less carbon dioxide than convention natural gas generators, and produce none of the pollutants such as NOx, SOx and particulate matter that account for much of the health effects associated with burning fossil fuels. Bloom Boxes are already online providing power to companies such as Google, FedEx and Adobe.
Delmarva Power plans to buy 30 megawatts of power from Bloom, pending legislative and regulatory action to include the technology in Delaware’s renewable energy portfolio standard. The electricity generated will be comparably priced with other renewable energy sources. In other words, this cutting edge project will hardly move the needle on energy prices in Delaware. What it will do is make Delaware a leader in producing and using clean, reliable, distributed energy, which will ease congestion on the grid and reduce our reliance on power imported from out of state.
There have been plenty of skeptics who have been wondering whether and when we will see green tech jobs come to Delaware. The answer is yes and very soon. In the contest between 19th and 21st century energy technologies, I’m happy that Delaware is betting on the future.