This Round G brings the VC total for Bloom to approximately $800M on a reported valuation of $2.7 billion, a figure which brings it near the 'Solyndra line' of VC totals. At a certain point, the necessity of having to raise more VC becomes looks more like a liability and an indication that something is wrong with a business model.
It's difficult to believe that Bloom is anywhere close to being profitable despite the plundering of the Self Generation Incentive Program (SGIP)
they enjoyed. Bloom also sells its fuel cells as a service -- a fuel cell PPA
, as it were -- to take some of the pain out of the initial investment.
Bloom does have a stellar list of high-profile customers, including Apple, Adobe, and Google.
Jeff St. John recently posed the question, can Bloom’s fuel cells compete with the natural gas-fired power plants that now serve the grid?
That’s a complex question, involving differences in cost per watt (gas turbines are still cheaper); the cleanliness of emissions (Bloom’s fuel cells are arguably cleaner, though they still emit CO2); the potential to capture waste heat for extra benefit (Bloom’s fuel cells don’t, while other gas-fired systems do); and the extra-complex question of whether or not Bloom’s natural gas-fueled devices are truly a “green” energy source.
So far, Bloom has been able to ship its product into subsidy-rich regions. The big question is if Bloom can survive when those subsidies recede.