Delaware Attracting Bloom Energy for High-Tech Manufacturing Hub
Bloom Energy has plans to build its new, high-tech manufacturing hub in Delaware, subject to a final agreement with Delmarva Power, as well as the passage of enabling legislation and regulatory approval. The new investment could create up to 1,500 high-tech jobs between the company and its suppliers at the site of the former Chrysler factory in Newark to manufacture Bloom Energy Servers, which are already helping to power companies like Google, FedEx, Coca-Cola and WalMart.
“Some of the world’s largest companies have chosen Bloom Energy to power their growth, and now Bloom has chosen Delaware as the best site for their expansion,” said Markell.
The facility would employ 900 people with a potential additional 600 jobs through co-located suppliers. An estimated 350 construction jobs could also be created this year, with production beginning in mid 2012.
Bloom’s Energy Servers convert natural gas, bio gas or liquid bio fuels such as ethanol to electricity through an electro-chemical reaction, rather than combustion. Traditional fossil-fuel energy production may lose 60‐70 percent of its energy during the combustion process, and up to 10 percent during transmission, so Bloom’s fuel cells are significantly more efficient. Carbon emissions and water use are drastically reduced, while harmful air pollutants are virtually eliminated. Unlike other renewable sources such as solar or wind, Bloom Energy Servers provide reliable base load distributed power generation and can run day and night, regardless of the weather.
While Bloom’s announcement that it would like to build its manufacturing hub and workforce in Delaware is encouraging news, Markell said, several steps still need to happen before Bloom can start building the facility.
Delmarva Power is proposing to partner with Bloom Energy to facilitate a 30 MW fuel cell installation as part of the utility’s renewable energy portfolio, pending legislative and regulatory approval. The Governor will be asking the General Assembly to consider legislation that would establish a regulatory framework for fuel cells, a reliable technology that is increasingly cost-competitive for commercial use. The proposed legislation would also enable locally produced, clean energy from Bloom Energy Servers to be counted towards Delmarva Power’s renewable portfolio requirements.
If the legislation passes, Delmarva Power would then file a new manufactured-in-Delaware fuel-cell rate tariff with the Delaware Public Service Commission for its review and approval.
Delmarva Power estimates that the 30 MW fuel cell project would have an above market cost to Delaware residential ratepayers of less than $0.70 per month. Local – or “distributed” – generation would have the added benefits of contributing to American energy security, ensuring flexibility to meet changing energy needs and keeping more Delaware money in the local economy.
Up to 50 acres from the old Chrysler site would be dedicated to the new Bloom facility and its supply chain. The car company shuttered the plant in 2008 and the University of Delaware acquired the property in November 2009 for its new Science and Technology Campus. Subject to the approval of the Council on Development Finance (CDF), the Delaware Economic Development Office (DEDO) is recommending the University receive a $7,000,000 grant to create infrastructure improvements throughout the entire site.
“The announcement of Bloom Energy’s choice of the University of Delaware’s Science and Technology Campus to create a manufacturing hub fits with our plans for building out the property to align with the University’s strengths and strategic focus,” says UD President Patrick Harker. “It is what we call our 3+1 strategy. The ‘3’ represents R&D priorities – energy and the environment, life and health sciences, and national security and defense. The ‘1’ is the enabling infrastructure that ties it all together – extensive on-site transit oriented development.”
Subject to approval from the Council on Development Finance (CDF), DEDO would also offer Bloom Energy a conditional grant from the state’s strategic fund of $11,250,000 for the 900 direct jobs the Bloom manufacturing hub would employ, and a conditional incentive of $6,250 for each job (up to 600) co-located to the site by suppliers. In addition, DEDO has offered 3% of Bloom’s total capital expenditures up to the first $50 million of Bloom’s CAPEX. This conditional grant provides the state the authority to recapture its investment if job targets are not met or if Bloom does not maintain the jobs at its Delaware facility for up to seven years, with recovery equal to the percentage of the employment target unmet.
“Delaware is committed to becoming one of the best places in the country to build a business and raise a family, something hundreds of new Bloom Energy employees will learn first-hand as they build on our state’s reputation for innovation,” said Governor Markell. “While there are still steps to take to make these jobs a reality, we are excited that Bloom made clear it wants those steps to be here, in Delaware.”