EBay To Build Nation's Largest Alternative Energy Fuel Cell Data Center
June 22, 2012

EBay To Build Nation’s Largest Alternative Energy Fuel Cell Data Center

EBay announced on Thursday that it plans to build a large renewable data center in Utah that will be powered by alternative energy fuel cells.

Once completed, the six-Megawatt facility in South Jordan, Utah, will be the country´s largest non-utility fuel cell installation powered by renewable energy.

The new facility expands the company´s existing Utah data center, and is expected to be operational some time in 2013.

“We believe the future of commerce can be greener,” said eBay chief executive John Donahoe during the company´s announcement on Thursday.

“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,” Donahoe said.

Data centers typically use fuel cells as back-up power sources, but eBay is designing renewable energy into the core of its global commerce platform, incorporating 30 Bloom Energy servers into the flagship data center's energy architecture.

The national electric utility grid will be used only as backup.

The Bloom servers will power the millions of transactions conducted by eBay's more than 102 million active users, who generate more than $69 billion in merchandise volume each year.

The facility will also power activity across eBay's other global commerce platforms, including PayPal and StubHub.

EBay said it would install 30 biogas fuel cells with a combined capacity of six megawatts, or six million watts. The biogas will come from agricultural waste.

“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.”

EBay´s latest move is not the company´s first renewable energy installation, but it is by far its largest. Ebay already operates a 650-kilowatt (kw) solar array and a 500 kw Bloom fuel cell installation at its San Jose, CA headquarters. It also has a 100 kW solar array in Denver, and recently opened a 665 kW solar array in the same Utah data center that will be expanded over the next several months.

Bloom Energy already delivers clean power for Google at its California headquarters, having provided 400 kW of onsite clean energy since 2008.  The company also provides installations for many other Fortune 500 companies, including Adobe, Coca Cola, Fedex and Walmart.

Dean Nelson, eBay´s vice president of global foundation services, who oversees the company´s data centers, told The New York Times that eBay´s data centers will consume some 43 million watts of power this year. That´s enough to power about 26,00 homes, according to estimates by the Electric Power Research Institute. On the Utah grid, that energy is supplied primarily by coal power, according to the institute.