Skip to main content

New eBay data centre focuses on renewable energy

EBay is continuing its green business initiatives by building the next phase of the company's data centre primarily using renewable energy.

In partnership with Bloom Energy, eBay will build the US' largest non-utility fuel cell installation. Though renewable energy typically supplements an electric grid, eBay is building the energy source into its core, incorporating 30 Bloom Energy servers into the new center's architecture.

"We believe the future of commerce can be greener," eBay president and CEO John Donahoe said in a statement.

The six MW Bloom installation is being designed and engineered as part of eBay's expanded data centre in Utah, and will be installed a few hundred feet from the building. Expected to be fully functional by mid-2013, each of the 30 energy servers will generate 1.75 million KW hours of electricity annually, a press release said.

"After 30 years of uniform data centres, eBay is proud to be the first in providing primary power to "a mission critical facility," eBay Global Foundation Services vice president Dean Nelson said.

"Our team was able to work with Bloom to challenge conventions and disrupt the status quo," he continued. "We are proving that it can work."

Technology-led innovation is changing the retail scene, and revolutionising how people shop and pay, Donahoe said. Now he wants to revolutionise how shopping is powered. By running the company's data centres primarily on reliable, renewable energy, eBay intends to "shape a future for commerce that is more environmentally sustainable at its core," Donahoe said.

Using Bloom fuel cells, which generate on-site power 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, eBay can replace large and expensive backup generators, as well as rarely used backup batteries. The fuel cells, which take fuel like natural gas or bio-gas and combine it with oxygen and chemicals to produce electricity, will be installed in a way that the company hopes will eliminate the chance of utility grid blackouts.

The fuel-cell-powered facility's cost has not been disclosed, but the company said that the project will allow the reallocation of investment dollars, especially in the removal of generators.

"By being a trail blazer and deploying brand new, revolutionary architecture to build its new data centre, eBay is raising the standard for the entire industry," said Bloom Energy principal co-founder and CEO KR Sridhar.

EBay's 102 million active users won't notice a difference once the Bloom servers begin powering the site, as well as eBay's other platforms, like PayPal and StubHub.

"Through this project we are enabling every transaction that goes through our Utah data centreto be clean," Nelson said. "Our hope is that, at scale, we can enable every transaction that goes through every data centre to be clean."