The big news in clean energy this week was the long-awaited launch in California of the "Bloom box", the first power generator to use silicon-based fuel-cell technology.
The unveiling of Bloom Energy's new fuel cell technology for powering buildings could mark the start of Silicon Valley's second major foray into the energy business. The first established the region as a centre for photovoltaics design, just as the global market for semiconductor-based solar power began its recent growth spurt.
Bloom's technology is considered promising because it could dramatically lower the cost of fuel-cell based power generation, in which hydrogen and oxygen are combined through an electrochemical process to produce electricity more efficiently and with lower carbon emissions than conventional generators. Other fuel-cell designs require specialised catalysts and membranes, both of which are expensive.
Like other stationary power generation systems based on fuel cells, Bloom boxes run on a variety of fuels from which hydrogen can be extracted, including natural gas, and get oxygen from the air.
Running on gas, they emit less than 35 per cent as much carbon dioxide per unit of electricity output as a typical coal-fired power plant, the company said. Compared with conventional gas-fired power plants, that would still represent roughly a 15 per cent reduction in carbon emissions.
The current cost of a Bloom box occupying an area the size of a parking space is US$700,000-$800,000 (Dh2.57 million - Dh2.94m). Each "electricity server" has a generating capacity of 100 kilowatts, enough to power about 100 average US homes.
Including subsidies, the cost of Bloom-box generated electricity works out to about 10 cents per kilowatt hour, Mr Sridhar estimated. That compares to an average of 11.3, 10.4 and 6.8 cents per kilowatt hour paid by US residential, commercial and industrial customers respectively.
Bloom's costs could come down, however, as the company ramps up manufacturing capacity.
In other energy news last week, Qatar and its two government-owned liquefied natural gas (LNG) companies announced plans to invest $1 billion in a project to recover gas released as LNG is loaded onto tankers. The Jetty Boil-Off Gas Recovery Project could prevent about 28.8 billion cubic feet annually of methane, a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, from being vented to the atmostphere.
In Spain, Iberdrola, the country's largest power company, said it plans to invest more than $6.8bn in electricity grids between now and 2012 to drive the company's growth. Recently, it has started projects to develop energy-efficient smart power grids in the US and Britain.
In Venezuela, Jesus Graterol, the president of the country's energy commission, said Venezuelan utilities should install metres that cut off power to consumers who exceed their monthly electricity ration.
"It's necessary to implement this technology because we are the Latin American country with the highest consumption," he told reporters in Caracas on Thursday. "We need these measures to be permanent until there exists a culture of energy savings."
Earlier this month, the Venezuelan president, Hugo Chavez, declared a national electricity emergency and called for a 20 per cent drop in consumption.
Venezuela has been suffering from a severe drought that has lowered the water level in the reservoir behind the Guri Dam, the location of a large hydroelectricity development that supplies most of the country's power.