Jeff Barber is the Vice President of Global Data Centers at Bloom Energy. He is an inspiring leader dedicated to empowering data center developers, tenants, and operators across the globe to responsibly take charge of their energy with Bloom Energy’s modern, scalable energy solution. Barber has spent more than 20 years in the industry, with extensive experience managing national and global sales teams for some of the world’s largest companies.
Fresh off back-to-back appearances at two of the industry’s most prominent events, PTC’s Annual Conference in Honolulu, Hawaii, and Metro Connect in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, JSA sat down with Jeff to discuss how Bloom is disrupting the data center landscape with its solutions and how the company leads with sustainability at the forefront of everything it does.
Q: One of Bloom Energy’s core values is transforming how businesses and communities take charge of their energy through resilient, predictable, and zero-carbon solutions. Net zero is an important goal for data centers; can you talk about how Bloom is helping the industry prepare for a zero-carbon energy future?
It is our generation’s defining challenge to push toward a net zero future, and Bloom is committed to constant product innovation aligned with a zero-emission trajectory, helping organizations achieve net-zero carbon in the future by reducing carbon and air pollution emissions, improving resilience, and charting a path towards it.
Fuel cells like Bloom Energy’s solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) are proving to be the best combination of efficiency, resiliency, and sustainability. Fuel cells are clean in two ways. First, they avoid emitting harmful air pollutants, including nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide, which have been linked to severe respiratory diseases and poor air quality worldwide.
Additionally, fuel cells reduce greenhouse gas emissions as compared to the grid. With zero combustion and high efficiencies, Bloom produces less carbon near-zero criteria pollutants than the grid’s marginal sources in every region in which we operate. This ability reduces the facility’s carbon footprint on Day 1 and provides a path to carbon-free power generation via hydrogen. Bloom is the future-proof solution for a greener planet.
For example, the SOFCs used in our Bloom Energy Server® can run on natural gas, renewable biogas, or hydrogen. When operated on blended natural gas, with hydrogen at the average lifetime efficiency of 54%, the CO2 that is generated during the electrochemical process is 45% less than the carbon emissions generated by the U.S. grid’s average marginal sources. When the Bloom Energy Server® runs on renewable biogas or hydrogen, emissions are carbon-neutral and zero-carbon, respectively.
Fuel cell technology has a wide range of uses, from generating electricity to powering vehicles. NASA even uses them on space missions. Due to their extremely high electrical efficiency and low operating costs, SOFCs have been considered one of the most promising fuel cell technologies for decades.
Bloom Energy has 20 years of design expertise working with fuel cells and monitoring installed systems to learn ways to improve the design and maximize efficiency. Adjusting for factors such as fuel specifications, pressure, water, air intake, and materials used, Bloom has been able to not only optimize for efficiency but also lower costs and increase power density, which ultimately reduces the carbon footprint.
In Bloom’s Energy Servers, SOFCs are stacked together and installed in ruggedized cabinets, and each is able to deliver 55kW and paralleled up to a 330kW rated, which can be connected together to produce 10s to 100s of MWs of power — with or without a utility connection available.
Fuel cells are proving to be an excellent combination of efficiency, resiliency, and sustainability in the alternative energy generation landscape.
Q: Capacity issues in some of the most critical data center regions have been in the headlines recently, with extended lead times for substation and transmission components forecast five or more years in the future. How does Bloom’s time-to-power advantage provide the potential to put assets into service years earlier?
In these times of uncertainty with centralized utility architectures and extended lead times for substation and transmission components, Bloom can often deploy in less time than traditional energy methods. .
Bloom’s Packaged Energy Server is a pre-assembled, ready-to-install platform with the power and ancillary modules pre-plumbed, pre-wired, and tested by employees at our plants factory before being delivered to the job site. Delivered ready to connect to fuel and power sources on-site, this makes field installation quick and easy.
Bloom uses all U.S.-based manufacturing’s manufacturing facilities are located in California and Delaware, and systems can be installed available to ship in sometimes months versus years for centralized utility substations and transmission lines. If fuel is available, Bloom can be onsite and ready for commissioning when your facility is.
When time is money, Bloom Energy’s rapid time-to-power saves on both.
Q: At PTC’23, you appeared on JSA TV with Dean Nelson, CEO of Cato and Chairman and Founder of iMasons, and Johnson Agogbua, Founder/CEO of Kasi Cloud, to discuss a greener hyperscale facility in Nigeria. Can you give us insights into how this dynamic trio of Bloom, Cato, and Kasi Cloud are working together to bring hyperscale facilities and services to a region with 15+ million people?
With more than 15 million people in the region, the demand for world-class infrastructure and ‘always on’ services in today’s economy is continuously growing. Bringing these modern services to one of the world’s most densely populated areas is a mission I think all three of our companies share. Kasi Cloud is developing a 60+ MW critical IT site near Lagos, Nigeria. With zero carbon energy production and green construction, it will provide the perfect balance to the hyperscale community in Africa.
Whether the power is scarce, inconsistent, or not available, Bloom is an ideal solution. That’s why I’m looking forward to working with Kasi and Cato to provide designs for 60MW of critical load to deliver Kasi and Cato with reliable, predictable, and greener power. With Bloom energy servers as the primary power source, Kasi is able to drastically reduce its carbon footprint while simultaneously satisfying market needs for availability and scalability. While there are no firm agreements right now, I truly look forward to where this partnership goes. Click here to watch the full interview.
Q: Bloom Energy is fresh off a successful trip to PTC’23, the Pacific Telecommunications annual Conference in Hawaii, and this was the company’s first time attending this prominent conference. How was the experience, and how was Bloom Energy’s platform received by the data center community?
Bloom had a wonderful experience at PTC’23. The reception from the data center community was overwhelmingly positive, which really affirmed our decision to put a strong focus on this space. The conversations we’ve had over the past week really proved that access to high-quality, affordable, and available power is the foundation of the data center market and that reliable, renewable, and sustainable energy is at the forefront. It’s no surprise that most feel that it would be ideal to have reliable power with a minimal impact on carbon emissions to sustain and scale data center development while providing a future-proof environment for capacity needs.
Bloom has designed product offerings that address the common — yet critical — data center requirements. Bloom’s supplemental power works in conjunction with an onsite utility to supplement the facility’s power. Bloom can integrate with existing infrastructure and seamlessly increase the load to meet demand in parallel with the utility. Bloom’s segregated load microgrid is ideal for mixed-use facilities where critical IT is separate from offices or other spaces and doesn’t require the same uptime as an N+1 facility. Utility services the non-data center load, while Bloom provides power to critical IT and the mechanical load. Or, for a full replacement of the utility, Bloom offers the islanded microgrid to operate completely off-grid with multiple levels of redundancy and fault isolation. All are just more ways Bloom Energy is transforming the way data centers deploy power to their critical facilities. (Click here to watch my JSA TV interview at PTC’23.)
Find out more about Bloom Energy and how the company is transforming the way data centers deploy power, visit www.bloomenergy.com/industries/data-centers