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Published on June 27th, 2012 | by Mridul Chadha


eBay to Build America’s Largest Fuel Cell Data Center

June 27th, 2012 by  


Global concerns about climate change, dependence on oil imports and increasing oil prices have brought renewable energy onto the centre stage of various data centers across the world. Taking this into consideration, online giant eBay has planned to power its main data centre in Utah primarily with renewable energy.

In partnership with Bloom Energy, eBay plans to install 30 large-scale fuel cells called Bloom Energy Servers powered by biogas. The new fuel cells will have an aggregate capacity of 6 MW and are able to provide enough power to operate eBay’s data center, though the power required for backup will still come from conventional energy from the grid. The facility will be the largest non-utility fuel cell installation in the United States.



Bloom Energy Severs will be installed few hundred feet away from the data center and thus power losses from grid disruption will be virtually eliminated. Fuel cells can generate power 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and they thus replace the need for UPS and backup generators. Each server is expected to generate 1.75 Million kWh annually.

“We believe the future of commerce can be greener,” said John Donahoe, President and CEO of eBay. “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 fuel cells are expected to serve about 15% of the eBay’s total energy needs and the system will be made operational by the middle of next year.

This new Bloom Energy project will be eBay’s largest renewable energy installation so far. eBay operates a 650-kilowatt solar array and a 500-kilowatt Bloom fuel cell installation at its San Jose headquarters, as well as a 100-kW solar array at its Denver data center. The company has also recently installed a 665-kW solar array on the roof of its LEED-certified Utah data center.

EBay is not alone in making announcements for going green with its data centre. Similar or more impressive announcements have been made by Apple, Microsoft, and Google in the past few months and even years, especially after the global pressure created by Greenpeace Campaign ‘How clean is your cloud’.

Data centers now consume about 1.3% of all global electricity. They are amongst the major consumers of energy. Therefore, they have the potential to help tremendously in saving fossil fuels and protecting the environment by reducing carbon emissions.

Image: Bloom Energy

The views presented in the above article are author’s personal views only.

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About the Author

currently works as Head-News & Data at Climate Connect Limited, a market research and analytics firm in the renewable energy and carbon markets domain. He earned his Master’s in Technology degree from The Energy & Resources Institute in Renewable Energy Engineering and Management. He also has a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Engineering. Mridul has a keen interest in renewable energy sector in India and emerging carbon markets like China and Australia.

  • FYI

    Federal Lawsuit Regarding Bloom Energy


    “Buried deep in the permit application, in Table 1 on page 161 of a 163-page application, was the number 884. On that page, under penalty of perjury, Bloom officially told the world that its energy servers emit 884 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour.”

    Also buried on page 161 of the permit application is a Table 2 notation that says these 235 “clean” servers would emit 22.56 pounds of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) per day. But Delaware, like other states, regulates VOC emissions at far lower levels (Maryland, for instance, regulates boat repair shops that emit more than 15 pounds per day). Moreover, if the same amount of power had been generated by combined cycle gas turbines, only 0.249 pounds of VOCs would be emitted daily. That’s 90 times less pollution!

    To top it off, because of the Bloom servers’ low efficiency and high capital cost, Delaware citizens will pay Bloom over $200 per megawatt hour of power delivered to their electricity transmission grid. But in January 2012, the U.S. Energy Information Agency said the projected “levelized” cost of electricity over the next 30 years from advanced gas-fired combined cycle power stations is $65.50 per MWH.

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  • Ross

    Why aren’t eBay going 100% renewable? Are they content with being the dirty man of the well-known Internet companies.

  • parker313

     As far as buying/saving on eBay goes:

    If you see an item that you want listed in auction format, send the seller a message asking if they will accept $x to end the auction early and sell the item to you. If that doesn’t work, use a sniping service such as Bidball.com to bid for you. It’ll bid in the last few seconds, helping to save $ and avoid shill bidding.

    If there is a particular item that you want that is relatively rare on eBay or goes fast when one is listed, use ebuyersedge.com to set up a saved eBay search for it. You’d get an e-mail whenever a match is listed. You can use the price, category, exclude word, etc. filters to narrow down the results that you get in the e-mails. Excellent for “Buy It Now”s priced right.

    If the item that you’re looking for is difficult to spell, try a misspelling search site like Typojoe.com to find some deals with items that have main keywords misspelled in the title. Other interested buyers may never see them.

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