Product Review

Fuel Cells: The Promise of Hydrogen Power

Bloom Energy fuel cells provide on-demand electricity but use natural gas and release CO2. Switching to hydrogen could help change our energy future.

Fuel cells and hydrogen are necessary, inevitable power sources of the future. But technological challenges, high cost, required fuel infrastructure, and other issues have allowed photovoltaics, wind, and batteries to become the short-term interventions for our fossil fuel addiction.

Bloom Energy has been making fuel cells since 2009, originally promoting them as a future source of inexpensive, sustainable onsite power for everything from homes to utilities. The marketing hype never matched reality, but the company continues to sell them in select markets for microgrids, buildings with critical systems, and organizations marketing their “green” initiatives. Despite massive outside investments, it has posted a financial loss every year since its founding. These losses, combined with overreaching promises, the use of natural gas as a fuel source, and the release of CO2 emissions during use, have led some green building professionals to write off the company and its technology as the ultimate greenwashing. (Bloom Energy pointed BuildingGreen to its website and press releases but declined requests for an interview.)

Published October 5, 2020

Ehrlich, B. (2020, September 28). Fuel Cells: The Promise of Hydrogen Power. Retrieved from