Bloom Energy to Power eBay Data Center

Written By Brianna Panzica

Posted June 26, 2012

Bloom eBayBack in April, Greenpeace released a report entitled “How Clean is Your Cloud?” in which it criticized a number of big IT companies for having poor energy efficiency at their data centers.

Companies like Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) did alright, while companies like (NASDAQ: AMZN) and Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) were hit with tough marks.

This eye-opener motivated a number of these and other companies to rethink the way they receive power and to tap into the increasing number of renewables.

Though it wasn’t included in the critical report, eBay (NASDAQ: EBAY) has been active in cleaning up its data centers, setting a goal of 15% emission reduction in 2012 from 2008 levels.

The company has installed solar arrays at its headquarters in San Jose and data centers in Denver and Utah, and it installed Bloom Energy fuel cells at San Jose back in 2009.

Now it’s planning its biggest alternative energy move yet.

Last Thursday, Bloom Energy issued a press release announcing its second partnership with eBay.

At eBay’s newest data center in Utah, Bloom Energy will be installing 30 Bloom Boxes, its signature fuel cells, to power the facility.

The project will be six megawatts, over ten times the size of the 500kW installation at the San Jose headquarters.

Each cell will generate 1.75 million kilowatt hours (kWh) per year, and the system will be able to provide enough power to run the entire data center.

eBay’s president and CEO, John Donahoe, said the efforts were consistent with eBay’s renewable plans:

“We believe the future of commerce can be greener. 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.”

Strict environmentalists have often criticized Bloom fuel cells for the fact that they can and do support many types of fuel, including natural gas, which still releases emissions. But eBay has this covered as well, planning to use organic biogas to fuel the cells.

Dean Nelson, vice president of eBay’s Global Foundation Services, told PC Mag:

“Through this project we are enabling every transaction that goes through our Utah data center to be clean. Our hope is that, at scale, we can enable every transaction that goes through every data center to be clean.”

eBay plans to have this data center and its new power supply functional sometime around the middle of 2013. It will be a major contribution to not only the sustainable energy vows of eBay but also to the renewable energy consumption and emissions reduction of the state of Utah.

*Photo courtesy of Bloom Energy

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