Bloom Energy to Develop the First Natural Gas-Powered Solid Oxide Fuel Cell Project in India

Bloom Energy Servers can operate using natural gas, biogas, or hydrogen as fuel


The U.S.-based Bloom Energy along with real estate developer Atelier Global, India’s leading natural gas companies GAIL (India) Limited and Indian Oil Corporation, and US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF), recently announced a first-of-its-kind commercial real estate development in Bangalore that will be powered by clean reliable electricity generated on-site using natural gas.

Atelier, an architecture and design firm, has conceptualized Whitefield Tower, a business-hospitality development with 6.9 lakh square feet in Bengaluru city for which one megawatt of power will be provided by Bloom Energy Servers running on natural gas supplied by GAIL.

Founded and led by chairman and CEO K.R Sridhar, an entrepreneur originally from India, Bloom Energy, a manufacturer of solid oxide fuel cell technology products, has developed Bloom Energy Server, a commercially available electricity generation device. The company will provide an on-site electric power solution for the Whitefield Tower, which is currently under construction.

According to the company statement, it produces power without combustion through an electrochemical process which generates virtually no smog-forming emissions. Bloom Energy Servers can operate using natural gas, biogas from landfills, food or animal waste, or hydrogen as fuel.

It will be the first natural gas-powered solid oxide fuel cell project in India since the launch of the U.S.-India Gas Task Force.

The task force was established by Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan and U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Rick Perry in April 2018 to support the Indian government’s goal to increase the share of natural gas in India’s energy mix from 6.5% to 15% by 2030, states the press statement.

According to the company statement, the Whitefield Tower will be constructed on 87,000 square feet with floor plates, large spans measuring 15 meters, fresh air architecture, central core design, 4.5-meter heights, and 100% daylight harvesting. The building will have a double-skinned façade with shading louvers to avoid glare and heat.

A company spokesperson told Mercom that upon completion, the power required by the Whitefield Tower would be just 1.2 MW compared to 9 MW of electricity needed by such buildings in general.

She said, “The structure is designed in such a way that it gets ample sunlight during the daytime and as the day falls, it will require only 1.2 MW of power which will be generated through Bloom Energy Server.”

The company spokesperson maintained that unlike solar panels which require water to clean, the server doesn’t require water for its maintenance. So, there’s no wastage of water, and it requires less space to set up.

“The Whitefield Tower development is a fine example of the potential of natural gas power to transform electricity generation in India,” said Bhuwan Chandra Tripathi, former chairman of GAIL.

Meanwhile, Nolty Theriot, senior vice-president, USISPF, said, “Creating a regulatory environment in which natural gas projects can thrive is a win-win for India and the United States. India has an opportunity to accelerate the shift to reliable power, and further developing gas markets in India will both enhance the viability of existing long-term contracts for U.S. gas in India and create significant business opportunities for U.S. energy companies.”

According to a report by Mercom Capital Group, a wholesale energy provider and subsidiary of Southern Company, made an investment into utility-scale fuel cell generation with Bloom Energy. The investment will support the repowering of an existing fuel cell project located on two sites in New Castle and Newark, Delaware, which currently consist of 30 MW of Bloom Energy Servers.

In September 2018, Mercom Research noted that Bloom Energy received $100 million in project financing for new commercial and industrial fuel cell deployments in the U.S. from Key Equipment Finance, a bank-held equipment finance company and an affiliate of KeyCorp.

Image credit: Bloom Energy

Anjana is a news editor at Mercom India. Before joining Mercom, she held roles of senior editor, district correspondent, and sub-editor for The Times of India, Biospectrum and The Sunday Guardian. Before that, she worked at the Deccan Herald and the Asianlite as chief sub-editor and news editor. She has also contributed to The Quint, Hindustan Times, The New Indian Express, Reader’s Digest (UK edition), IndiaSe (Singapore-based magazine) and Asiaville. Anjana holds a Master’s degree in Geography from North Bengal University, and a diploma in mass communication and journalism from Guru Ghasidas University, Bhopal.