"Online auction company eBay recently opened its newest data center in South Jordan, Utah. The new facility operates using fuel cells, which change natural gas into energy.
The company’s new data center utilizes a chemical reaction in the 30 fuel cells to create the energy needed to run the facility, the first electrical structure of its kind in a data center. The local power grid in Utah will now only be used as a backup source of power. Additionally, eBay stated the power structure from Bloom Energy is not only an environmentally friendly way to power hardware, it also makes the facility more dependable and less likely to be affected by grid blackouts.
“In other words, the Bloom fuel cells are expected to not only increase our efficiency and lessen our environmental impact (approximately 49 percent less CO2 emissions than our first phase data center), but also boost the performance of our commerce platforms by reducing the risk of outages,” stated eBay’s Dean Nelson and Lori Duvall in a blog post. “In this way we’re seeing proof that environmental considerations go hand-in-hand with good business strategy.”
In addition to its use of fuel cells, eBay is also partnering with alternative and renewable energy technology company Ormat to install a waste heat recovery system on the natural gas pipeline, stated Nelson and Duvall. The system aims to capture any lost heat from the pipeline and convert it into up to 5 megawatts of additional electricity.
“Through these investments, we’re fundamentally rethinking the way data centers are designed, operated and powered,” wrote Nelson and Duvall. “And we’re continuing to gain momentum in our efforts to enable a greener commerce future.”
The newest data center power structure is part of eBay’s goal of sourcing at least 8 percent of the company’s energy from cleaner sources by 2015.
According to Bloom Energy, the solid oxide fuel cells produce pure, dependable electricity at cost efficient prices. The cells utilize a clean electro-chemical process in place of combustion process.
“They are like batteries except that they always run,” Bloom Energy said about its fuel cells on its website.
The website also stated that each installation produces 200 kilowatts of electricity, which can power a typical office building or 160 average residences. Additionally, the system converts natural gas into energy in almost half the time of other legacy technologies, and can utilize renewable energy sources or fossil fuels."