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I find it extremely interesting that they'll be using natural gas as their primary energy source for the campus and using the electrical grid as their backup. Is this really cost effective? Are many businesses doing this?

If you have a supply of Natural Gas: it's probably not the cheapest way to get power, but apparently they're working on a whole passive solar thing, so they might not need much for HVAC. It might be a good thing from a power availability standpoint. California is prone to earthquakes and a computer design office without power is pretty much a closed office.

I kind of assumed they would be using the cutting-edge Bloomenergy Boxes.

Fuels: Natural Gas, Directed Biogas

Input fuel pressure: 15 psig

Electrical efficiency (LHV net AC): > 50%



Isn't the electrical grid down there a bit undersized, and in need of improvement anyway? I'm in Vancouver, BC, so I don't know for sure, but I keep seeing news stories about rolling blackouts fairly often.

If that's the case, then it seems to me that relying on something other than the grid would be a smart move.

The last time we had rolling blackouts was 10 years ago, 2001. They occurred on seven days. Enron played a role. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_electricity_crisis for a reasonably good accounting.

The power goes out a couple of times a summer, at least on the west (?) side of De Anza; the grid down there is very bad, and on more than one occasion, during a product launch or very close to, the transformer under the gas station (!) would blow (!) and we'd all have to pack up and head to campus to camp out in a conference room. Good times. Oh wait, no, the other thing. Bad times.

One of the benefit you get is that you don't lose ~7% from transmission/distribution. The other is that it burns cleaner than coal (but isn't as clean as Nuclear, or renewable as solar/wind/blah)

Beyond that, the cost comes down to availability. There are parts of the world where every single house has a natural gas line for heating (water and air). I've heard that in Japan, small/clean/quiet (relatively) generators are installed in some apartments and provide electricity.

This article has some information on natural gas usage in California. It seems like most of it come from out of state (or country): http://www.cpuc.ca.gov/puc/energy/gas/natgasandca.htm

I wonder if it is that bloom energy system...

Syracuse University recently did this for their campus data center: http://www.progressiveengineer.com/features/Orange-Goes-Gree...

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