Health care organization Kaiser Permanente has partnered with Bloom Energy to put fuel-cell generators at seven facilities in California by the end of the year. In total, the cells will deploy four megawatts of solid oxide fuel-cell generated power. The agreement expands upon Kaiser’s solid commitment to renewable energy and sustainable development. The company already powers its Santa Clara Medical Center with solar power and uses solar panels in another 15 facilities. The addition of fuel cells is expected to reduce the use of fossil fuels for electricity at the new locations by 34 percent.
Bloom Energy’s fuel cells, called Bloom Boxes, operate under the company’s new service Bloom Electrons. The cells run on natural gas, with the potential to run on 100 percent directed biogas, a non-fossil methane derived from landfills or manure. In an effort to offset greenhouse gas emissions at Kaiser’s facilities, Bloom Energy has agreed to supply the utility natural gas transmission network with biogas.
Purchasing renewable energy from a provider like Bloom Energy allows companies to reap the benefits of green power, but without incurring the high costs of installing fuel cells — or solar panels or wind turbines — in their facilities. Bloom Boxes costs between $700,000 and $800,000 each, making them too expensive for companies other than Fortune 500s. Under the Bloom Electrons service, companies like Kaiser Permanente sign 10-year contracts to purchase the fuel-cell generated energy while the power company retains ownership of the fuel cell.
Along with being a leader in the medical industry for using renewable energy and reducing greenhouse gases, Kaiser Permanente’s plan for a greener future also promotes sustainable food choices and reducing the use of harmful chemicals that permeate hospital practices. The company saves more than $10 million annually through energy conservation strategies, and they have eliminated the purchase and disposal of more than 40 tons of harmful chemicals.
WHY THIS MATTERS:
By installing these new Bloom Boxes, Kaiser Permanente is testing out a clean-energy source that could fundamentally change the way businesses and industries power their operations. If successful, this technology could expand to government, infrastructure and even residential use. Kaiser is setting an example as one of the most prominent health care organizations in the country by showing that Bloom Boxes are a innovative clean energy source that should be considered in addition to solar and wind.