Apple's new headquarters in Cupertino, California, will generate its own electricity from natural gas one way or another
Steve Jobs announced Apple's plans to build a new headquarters building in Cupertino, California, last night at the local city council meeting. The building looks stunning, a massive circle with a huge courtyard in the middle. Like most high-tech companies' campuses, it will feature nice landscaping and the amenities you'd expect.
One small detail that I'm interested in, though, is how Apple will power its building. Jobs said that there will be an energy center on the campus that will use natural gas as its main energy supply, tapping into the grid for backup.
What do you do with natural gas? You convert it into electricity. And that may mean that Bloom Energy is about to get another customer. You may remember Bloom from last year, when they had a big "Apple-style" press event to unveil their "Bloom Boxes," natural gas fuel cells that are supposed to be plug-n-play for big companies. Backed by the big Silicon Valley VC firm, Kleiner Perkins, they've long had Google and Coca Cola as customers and recently announced the expansion of their manufacturing operations.
It would make sense -- given the geographical proximity of the two companies and Apple's stated plans -- that Bloom wins Apple's business. But Bloom is not the only option. Companies like Biogen in Cambridge have installed natural gas microturbines that produce both heat and power, though with much less fanfare than Bloom Energy's fuel cells.