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eBay Data Center To House Largest Fuel Cell Installation
June 21, 2012
eBay Inc announced plans to build the next phase of the company's flagship data center with fuel cells as the primary power source.
The Internet auction company plans to build the country's largest non-utility installation of fuel cells, incorporating 30 fuel cell systems made by Bloom Energy into the new data center's energy architecture. eBay expects to use electricity from the utility grid only as backup.
The six-megawatt (MW) installation is being designed and engineered into eBay’s expanded data center facility in Utah, and is scheduled to be fully functional by mid-2013. Each of the 30 Bloom Energy servers will generate 1.75 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity annually, and will be installed a few hundred feet from the center itself, virtually eliminating traditional utility grid losses.
eBay will use the Bloom fuel cells—which generate on-site power 24 hours a day, 365 days a year—to replace the large and expensive backup generators and UPS components that are historically utilized less than 1 percent of the year. eBay's fuel cells will be powered by biogas, a fossil fuel alternative derived from renewable organic waste.
“We are embracing disruptive energy technology and designing it into our core data center energy architecture,” said John Donahoe, President and CEO of eBay Inc. “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 project will be eBay’s fifth and largest renewable energy installation. eBay operates a 650 kilowatt (kW) solar array and 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. In April of this year, the company installed a 665 kW solar array spanning 72,000 square feet atop its existing, LEED® certified Utah data center.
The new data center will become eBay’s third facility in Utah, adding to the existing LEED certified data center in South Jordan and a new customer service center planned to LEED standards in Draper. eBay played a role in the development and passage of Utah Senate Bill 12 earlier this year. The legislation allows non-utility energy consumers to buy and transmit power directly from renewable energy developers.
In May, Apple expanded plans for a solar installation at its newest data center in Maiden, North Carolina. According to reports, the $1 billion facility – dubbed Project Dolphin – will be powered completely by renewable energy by the end of 2012.
Bart King is a PR/marketing communications consultant and principal at Cleantech Communications.