What you need to know about data centers & biogas

At first glance biogas — gas that is produced by the breakdown of organic matter — and data centers that are powering the world’s always-on websites don’t seem like a clear fit. But some data center operators are researching ways to use biogas and here’s why:

Apple reveals more details about its fuel cell farm

According to a filing with the North Carolina Utilities Commission, Apple’s fuel cell farm at its data center in North Carolina could start operating by June and will use twenty four 200 kW fuel cells.

Today in Cleantech

Can commodity biogas earn intermittent wind and solar power the title of a truly renewable AND baseload power source? That’s the contention that green technology analyst Dallas Kachan puts forward in a report released this morning. Kachan defines “bio natural gas” — also known as renewable natural gas and biomethane — as the gas that comes from cleaning up the methane captured from rotting organic material in landfills, dairy farms, food processing plants and other sources and injecting it into natural gas pipelines. That gas can then be contracted for use in gas-fired turbines, fuel cells or other generation sources that can use it to back up the intermittent power that comes from wind turbines and solar power plants. Wind farms already need backup power to cover dips in the wind, and those are usually natural gas-fired turbines. Burning biogas still creates CO2 emissions, but does prevent even more greenhouse gas-intensive methane from entering the atmosphere. Fuel cells that turn natural gas into power with even fewer emissions can get an even bigger carbon reduction. In face, fuel cell company Bloom Energy has been buying so-called “directed biogas” from sources far from its installations in California to be able to claim the state’s lucrative Self-Generation Incentive Program credit of up to $4,500 per kilowatt for fuel cells using biogas, compared to $2,500 per-kilowatt for those using natural gas. The big question, of course, is how big the bio natural gas business can grow to support the needs of all the would-be renewable, carbon-neutral power sources that want to use it to become always-on resources as well.

Al Gore’s New Passion: Organic Waste Recycling

Recycling is a tried-and-true form of energy efficiency, so it’s no surprise greentech investors such as Al Gore would find the concept appealing. For Harvest Power, that means a $51.7 million round to build facilities to turn organic waste into fertilizer and energy.

By the Numbers: What a Bloom Electron Is Worth

What’s a Bloom Electron worth to would-be customers of Bloom Energy’s new power purchase agreement style service — and what will those electrons cost Bloom and its financial backers?

How Green are Bloom Electrons? Depends on the Gas

Last week, fuel cell startup Bloom Energy launched its power purchase agreement business that repositions it from being a provider of fuel cells to a provider of the power those fuel cells generate. But what is a Bloom electron worth to Bloom’s would-be customers?