Solid-oxide-fuel-cell manufacturer Bloom Energy is entering the commercial hydrogen market by introducing hydrogen-powered fuel cells and electrolyzers that produce renewable hydrogen.
These products will be first introduced to the South Korean market in 2021 through an expanded partnership with SK Engineering and Construction (SK E&C), an affiliate of SK Group.
Bloom’s technologies can be critical in enabling South Korea to execute on its government-mandated Hydrogen Economy Roadmap. Bloom’s existing partnership with SK E&C has already sold 120 megawatts (MW) of fuel cells in South Korea, generating more than $1 billion in equipment and future services revenue for Bloom.
The Bloom Energy Servers are a proven market leader in clean, reliable, and resilient on-site power. This expansion of our product offering enables zero-carbon electricity and transportation solutions. Innovation and execution are fundamental tenets of our business and we are excited about the opportunity to advance the hydrogen economy with our long-time partner, SK E&C.—KR Sridhar, founder, chairman, and CEO of Bloom Energy
Bloom Energy announced in June 2019 that its fuel cells could run on hydrogen to generate zero-carbon electricity. By the end of 2020, Bloom expects to ship a 100 kW pilot server to South Korea to power an SK E&C facility in early 2021. The second phase, a 1 MW hydrogen server installation, is targeted for a 2022 deployment. Both companies have committed to fund and to resource these two phases fully.
Our three-year collaboration with Bloom Energy has reinforced to us our view that Bloom’s fuel cell technology is the best in the world. Given the Korean government’s ambitious directive of deploying 15,000 MW of fuel cells by 2040, we forecast to sell 400 MW per year of fuel cells in the future.—Jason Ahn, CEO of SK E&C
Bloom Energy’s core technology is based on research done by its founders on using electricity generated by a solar panel to produce fuel and oxygen on planet Mars for NASA. Bloom Energy Servers reversed this process by taking in fuel and air to generate electricity. Bloom is capitalizing on this technology by taking terrestrial renewable power and producing hydrogen using solid oxide electrolyzers. The renewable hydrogen, when produced in this manner, can fuel cars, power resilient AlwaysON Microgrids, or be injected into natural gas pipelines to reduce carbon emissions.
SK Group is the leading oil and gas provider in South Korea with 3,400 gas stations. The South Korean government’s roadmap requires the construction of 1,200 filling stations to fuel 6.2 million hydrogen cars by 2040. Bloom’s electrolyzers would allow SK to play a vital role in helping to meet these targets.—Jason Ahn
Since 2002, Bloom has been awarded 19 patents for its solid oxide electrolyzer technology. Over time, it has improved the efficiency and aggressively reduced the cost of its products and expects this trend to continue. This, combined with the rapidly reducing cost of bulk solar and wind intermittent power, could make the hydrogen generated with Bloom electrolyers reach the US Department of Energy’s goal of gasoline price parity faster than other technologies.
Generating low-cost hydrogen from intermittent renewables is a sine qua non for decarbonization. Solid oxide electrolyzers hold the greatest potential to generate low-cost green hydrogen because of their superior efficiency, rapidly declining costs, and scalability. Achieving zero emissions in many sectors will depend upon making massive amounts of renewable hydrogen. Because Bloom is the market leader in solid oxide technology, I am very encouraged by this announcement.—Jack Brouwer, professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and director of the National Fuel Cell Research Center (NFCRC) at the University of California, Irvine