eBay wants to power commerce with clean energy

Bloom Energy fuel cells at eBay
Bloom Energy fuel cells at eBay (Image Credit: Bloom Energy)

eBay Inc. has this week announced a bold new vision for powering their flagship data center, with renewable energy as its primary power source. In a partnership with Bloom Energy, eBay is building the country’s largest non-utility fuel cell installation. In a typical scenario renewable energy supplements the existing electric grid, but by designing renewable energy into the core of its global commerce platform, and incorporating 30 Bloom Energy servers into the new data center’s energy architecture, eBay plans to use the electric utility grid only as a backup.

“We believe the future of commerce can be greener”, said John Donahoe, President and CEO of eBay Inc. “Technology-led innovation is changing retail and revolutionizing how people shop and pay. We also want to revolutionize how shopping is powered. We are embracing disruptive energy technology and designing it into our core data center energy architecture. Running our data centers primarily on reliable, renewable energy, we intend to shape a future for commerce that is more environmentally sustainable at its core.”

The new Bloom Energy, 6 megawatt (MW) installation, is currently being designed and engineered into eBay’s expanded data center facility in Utah and if the schedule is kept will be fully functional by mid-2013. The 30 Bloom Energy servers will be installed a few hundred feet from the data center and will generate approximately 1.75 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity annually.

The fuel cells from Bloom Energy will generate on-site power 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and will replace large and expensive backup generators, and UPS components, that are historically utilized less than 1 percent of the year.

“By being a trail blazer and deploying a brand new, revolutionary architecture to build its new data center, eBay is raising the standard for the entire industry. It is 21st century infrastructure for the industry needs of the 21st century”, said KR Sridhar, Principal Co-Founder and CEO of Bloom Energy. “Bloom Energy is thrilled to be supporting eBay on this innovative and inspiring large scale project.”

According to the press release: “The Bloom servers will power millions of transactions by eBay’s more than 102 million active users, who generate more than $69 billion in merchandise volume annually. The data center also will power activity across eBay’s other global commerce platforms, including PayPal and StubHub, enabling merchants, retail partners, buyers and sellers to do greener commerce.”

This new energy project with Bloom Energy with be eBays largest renewable energy installation. eBay already operates a 650 kilowatt (kW) solar array, a 500 kW Bloom fuel cell installation at its San Jose headquarters, as well as a 100 kW solar array at its Denver data center. Previously this year the company also installed a 665 kW solar array spanning 72,000 square feet atop its existing, LEED® certified Utah data center.

eBay may not be on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPAlist of Top 50 Green-Powered Organizations currently, but if they continue on this path they might just be heading for a good spot in the future. Large Data Centers are well known to consume huge amounts of power so it’s promising to see that large organisations like eBay are actively looking in ways to increase the use of more sustainable resources.

Press Release (eBay)

Press Release (Bloom Energy)

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