A growing number of communication firms are looking towards fuel cell technology as a reliable source of energy generation, providing potential backup in case of transmission interruptions.

AT&T has joined Google and Cox Enterprises as one of the communication companies that will utilize Bloom Energy’s fuel-cell technology to power their operations. AT&T plans to install Bloom Energy Servers, known as Bloom Boxes, at 11 sites in California providing the company with 7.5 MW of reliable onsite power and also reduce carbon emissions by approximately 50% compared to the grid.

“Network reliability and reliability of the electricity grid that powers our network is always a top priority for us, so we have built in battery backup and/or robust backup power generation at all critical network sites,” said an AT&T spokesperson.

A reliable power supply is crucial for the credibility of communication firms, whose operations depend on reliable electricity supply. Fuel-cell technology could offer communication firms more than just lessened dependence on the transmission grid as they also provide cleaner and more efficient electricity.

“AT&T is committed to finding more sustainable ways to power our business operations as part of our efforts to incorporate alternative and renewable energy sources into our energy portfolio,” said AT&T Director of Energy John Schinter. “Bloom Energy provided us with a solution that was not only cost comparable but also allows us to minimize environmental impact.”

Bloom Boxes contain stacked fuel cells that convert natural gas and air into electricity through a electrochemical process. According to AT&T, this will help the company to eliminate close to 250 million pounds of carbon emissions per year, equivalent to removing more than 3700 cars from the road.

Installation of the Bloom Boxes will begin later in the year at 11 AT&T facilities, including Corona, Fontana, Hayward, Pasadena, Redwood City, Rialto, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Jose, and San Ramon. The boxes are anticipated to produce over 62 million kilowatt-hours of energy annually and be fully operational by mid-2012.

Breaking Energy recently reported on Bloom Energy’s plans for their newest manufacturing plant in Newark, Delaware.

Photo Caption: Bloom Energy CEO K. R. Sridhar holds a fuel cell as he speaks during a Bloom Energy product launch on February 24, 2010 at the eBay headquarters in San Jose, California. Bloom Energy, a Silicon Valley start up, introduced the ‘Bloom Box’, a solid oxide fuel cell device that can generate electricity at a cost of 8 to 10 cents per kilowatt hour using natural gas.