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photo: Edelman

In The New York Times on Tuesday, I write about Adobe Systems putting a dozen Bloom Energy fuel cells on the roof of a parking garage at its downtown San Jose headquarters, the largest such installation in the United States:

To green up its operations, Adobe Systems, the maker of the ubiquitous Flash media player, has done everything from installing waterless urinals to building a wind farm at its downtown San Jose, Calif., headquarters.

Now the company has put a dozen 100-kilowatt Bloom Energy fuel cells on top of a parking garage that will supply nearly a third of the three-tower complex’s electricity.

It will be the nation’s largest installation of Bloom Energy Servers, a cutting-edge solid oxide fuel cell that has been bought by Google, eBay and other big corporations.

Bloom Energy, a long-secretive Sunnyvale, Calif., start-up that has raised $400 million from some of Silicon Valley’s leading venture capitalists, unveiled the energy servers to great fanfare at a February event attended by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California; Gen. Colin L. Powell, the former secretary of state; and a host of technology chiefs.

Fuel cells convert hydrogen, natural gas or another fuel into electricity through an electrochemical process and then provide electricity directly to a building without the need for new transmission lines. Depending on the type of fuel used, Bloom claims its devices can sharply cut or eliminate greenhouse gas emissions.

Randy Knox, Adobe’s senior director for global workplace solutions, said the company aimed to obtain half of its electricity from renewable sources. But Adobe was stymied by the fact its operations are located in urban skyscrapers rather than on a sprawling corporate campus.

“We just don’t have space on our tower rooftops for large solar arrays,” said Mr. Knox.

Earlier this year Adobe did install 20 1.2-kilowatt vertical wind turbines made by Windspire Energy on a sixth-floor plaza that connects two of its buildings. But the urban wind farm, which looks more like a modern art exhibit than a power plant, generates only enough electricity to power about 10 average homes –- when the wind is blowing.

A dozen Bloom Energy Servers, however, produce 1,200 kilowatts of power around the clock and fit comfortably on the roof of Adobe’s parking garage. Visible from neighboring towers and the 101 freeway, the polished metal cubes’ green-chic look owes more to Apple’s tech aesthetic than to old-school industrial design.

You can read the rest of the story here.

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