We spent today exploring the latest and greatest green technology that San Jose had to offer. Our trip began with a visit to SunPower, the industry-leading photovoltaic manufacturer and one of our longest running sponsors. The Big Green Bus sports four SunPower 315 solar panels, which were donated in 2009 and have provided the bus with electricity since. We met with Alyssa Newman, SunPower’s head of Corporate Sustainability and Director of the SunPower Foundation. She gave us a tour of SunPower’s offices and one of their R&D facilities. Their research has resulted in SunPower achieving the highest electrical yield from a commercial solar panel. I was interested to learn that SunPower has a fully vertically integrated production and sales model – they not only manufacture solar cells and complete panels, but they also design and install solar tracking arrays and mounting brackets. It was great getting to know more about one of the companies that made our tour possible, and I can’t wait to come back on Thursday to show them the bus!
After Sunpower we headed across town to visit Bloom Energy. Bloom produces a unique type of fuel cell that it has dubbed the Bloombox. A Bloom 1.0 device can be powered by a number of different fuels, but natural gas is what is most commonly used. It produces electricity at roughly 60% efficiency, which is more than double what a traditional natural gas reactor can do. Amazingly, the only byproduct of this reaction is a small amount of CO2. I don’t want to say too much more since we’re all under NDA, but I will say that their manufacturing facility is one of the neatest things I’ve seen this summer. I’ll be keeping an eye on Bloom as they continue to push the boundaries of the clean energy sector.
That’s all for now, more to come soon.