Shares of Bloom Energy surged nearly 35 percent on Wednesday, lifting the fuel-cell maker above its initial public offering price for the first time since 2018, after the California-based company announced it would enter the commercial hydrogen market.
Bloom’s core product is its Energy Server, which converts natural gas into electricity through an electrochemical process without combustion, reducing carbon emissions compared to conventional gas-fired power generation and doing away with other forms of air pollution entirely.
A single Bloom Energy Server system can deliver 250 kilowatts of power, enough to meet the needs of a typical big-box retailer, and takes up only half as much space as a standard 30-foot shipping container — making it vastly more space-efficient than on-site solar generation.
With interest in green hydrogen as a decarbonization tool growing around the world, Bloom last year announced that its Energy Servers could be upgraded to run on hydrogen, or a combination of hydrogen and natural gas. Now, Bloom says it will begin offering electrolyzers to make the renewable hydrogen in the first place.
Bloom will initially target South Korea with its hydrogen-powered fuel cells and electrolyzers, through a partnership with an affiliate of the SK Group, the country’s leading operator of gas stations. South Korea has some of the world’s most aggressive ambitions for hydrogen fuel-cell cars and trucks.
“This expansion of our product offering enables zero-carbon electricity and transportation solutions,” Bloom founder and CEO KR Sridhar said in a statement.
Interest in green hydrogen rising around the world
Two years ago, Bloom pulled off a successful IPO, selling 18 million shares at $15 each, making it a rare clean-energy “unicorn,” as companies valued at more than $1 billion are known in Silicon Valley. Its shares soon rocketed above $30. More recently, however, Bloom has struggled to win over investors, with its shares trading around $4 just four months ago.
The prospect of tapping into the green hydrogen market puts the company in a new light. Shares of Bloom Energy rose 35 percent on Wednesday, to $17.65.
“Given the amount of attention governments and Fortune 500 companies have showered on green hydrogen recently, launching this new product line now makes sense,” Ben Gallagher, an expert on carbon and emerging technologies at Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables, said in an email.
The technology is “adjacent to [Bloom’s] natural-gas fuel cells, so this is not something out of the blue,” Gallagher said. “We will begin to see more companies entering the electrolyzer market — recently Plug Power purchased Giner ELX to add an electrolyzer vertical to pair with their fuel cells.”
Interest in green hydrogen is rising around the world as the proliferation of net-zero emissions targets runs up against the hard realities of intermittent renewable power. Hydrogen produced with wind and solar energy can be injected into existing natural-gas pipelines and later converted back into electricity, used to power fuel-cell cars, or put to other uses.
Earlier this month, EU policymakers unveiled a new hydrogen strategy targeting 6 gigawatts of electrolyzers installed by 2024, up from the 250 megawatts or so installed globally today. By 2030 the EU wants 40 gigawatts of electrolyzers installed within its own borders and another 40 gigawatts in place in nearby countries that can export to Europe.
U.S.-based Air Products and Chemicals, which claims to be the world’s largest producer of hydrogen, recently announced plans to build a $5 billion green hydrogen plant in Saudi Arabia powered by 4 gigawatts of solar and wind energy.