Rapier on Bloom Energy: Hype is a Two-edged Sword

Michael Giberson

Robert Rapier on Bloom Energy.  Jumping straight to the end, his conclusion:

Bloom Energy looks like both Plug Power and Range Fuels to me. It is a company that is attempting to produce energy cheaper than all those who came before using known technology – and using hype to attract investors. And if Bloom Energy fails to deliver, they will learn just like Range Fuels that hype is a two-edged sword.

Rapier, with a modesty both rare and valuable among the blogging class, observes that fuel cells are not his specialty. He leaves to others the task of assessing the technology.  But his background in biofuels and alternative energy prepares him well to recognize revolutionary-technology hype, and he thinks he has seen this story before.

(Plug Power is a company that promised to do in 2000 the same kind of thing that Bloom Energy promises now.  A New York Times story from that year describes Plug Power as “developing refrigerator-sized cells that run on natural gas or propane for use as home power sources.”  Plug Power, still around, does make and sell fuel cells, but apparently isn’t profitable and hasn’t, yet, revolutionized the electric power industry.)