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Apple buying energy-efficient Bloom fuel cells to power North Carolina data center

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The CEO of Bloom, a company that manufactures fuel cells that run on either natural gas or renewable biogas, has confirmed that Apple is buying a number of its cells for its new North Carolina data center.

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Apple's new data center in North Carolina is trying to minimize its energy footprint with a variety of methods, and the CEO of energy company Bloom has now confirmed that Apple will be using its energy-efficient fuel cells. "Apple is an existing customer and they will use our fuel cells in their North Carolina data center," K.R. Sridhar told CNET today. Apple will apparently have 4.8 megawatts worth of fuel cells powered by either natural gas or biogas. Sridhar didn't specify what Apple would be using as its power source, but the company has previously said that more than 60 percent of its data center's power will come from renewable energy.

Bloom's fuel cells, known as "Bloom Boxes," generate and store electricity from nonrenewable natural gas or from biogas, largely made of captured methane from plants or rotting vegetation. Bloom has said that either method can help reduce carbon emissions by at least 40 to 50 percent compared to using the US electrical grid, both because of the efficiency of converting power and because none is lost by traveling over power lines. Apple was recently criticized by Greenpeace for its "dirty energy," but the new center, currently under construction, will include both these cells and a large solar array.