Monday, February 22, 2010

Bloom Box: Too good to be true, or just plain great? Might find out Wednesday.

Every few years we get a hot new idea for efficient, clean energy, often -- like the excitement about cold fusion some time ago -- fueled by a potent mix of hope and hype and investor gullibility. Now the latest entry in the clean energy sweepstakes -- the "Bloom Box," a fuel cell from Bloom Energy-- will make its debut at the eBay corporate headquarters this Wednesday, reportedly with Colin Powell, an early backer and board member, and Arnold Schwarzenegger in attendance.
The anticipation can be gauged by a segment on the CBS network's flagship television programme, 60 Minutes, on Sunday which talked about the "holy grail" of clean energy technology. A clock on Bloom Energy's website – which contains little information bar an inspirational video of astronauts and of winning runners cresting the tape at the finish line – counts down the minutes until the launch.

Venture capitalists have reportedly poured $400m into Bloom Energy's project since founder KR Sridhar began his work eight years ago. Twenty companies, including Wal-Mart and Google, are trying out the device. Sridhar has also attracted the high-profile support of Powell, who proclaimed last year: "I have seen the technology and it works."
Hmm... I don't exactly equate the names eBay, Powell and Schwarzenegger with technology vision and leadership. And Powell, of course, seemed equally convinced there were WMDs in Iraq -- until there weren't. Stay tuned.

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