The explosion in data creation, consumption and archiving is driving an increased demand for data center capabilities. Likewise, organizations maintaining those data centers are struggling with the substantial growth in data center power consumption costs. This trend has sparked another as these companies search for ways to reduce consumption and keep power costs at a manageable level.
A recent Data Center Knowledge report highlighted what Bloom is doing in the hopes of bringing its solution to data centers to reduce data center power consumption. Peter Gross, the head of the company’s new Mission Critical Practice, is hoping the future includes Bloom boxes in every data center. In fact, he believes the company, with its fuel cell technology, has the potential to transform the industry.
To help drive down data center power consumption, the Bloom Energy Server is designed with solid oxide fuel technology that will convert this fuel to electricity with its electro-chemical reaction. Perhaps the most important element – there is no combustion in the process. The Bloom box, which is housed within the customer data center, will continue operating even during outages in the grid.
To date, this data center power technology has only been lightly adopted in the industry, one focused on the economics of power and reliability in all systems. Some are still evaluating both elements in Bloom, although early installations leveraged incentives that reduced the total cost of data center power. Without those incentives, the cost would fall between eight and 13 cents per kilowatt hour. With a lease option, Bloom customers reduced their up-front capital expenses.
The overall trend toward Bloom may be changing as the company adds AT&T (News - Alert) and NTT to its list of customers. Both companies sought support for data centers in California, looking to Bloom to help reduce their data center power consumption. Gross believes these giants will benefit from an energy source that is clean, reliable and stable. It also helps that the data center power platform is immune to any disruptions to the grid.
Gross anticipates change for Bloom in the future. He expects the data center power boxes will be fueled by natural gas, relying on the utility grid only as a backup service. Such a configuration may call for dual-corded servers where one input is provided by Bloom, the other by the grid. This approach will allow data center operators to reduce their reliance on backup generators powered by diesel fuel.
As for the future of the industry, Gross believes companies will have to identify ways to build faster, while being more flexible and economical. A good first step is to reduce data center power, something in which Bloom hopes to play a critical role.
Edited by Carrie Schmelkin