eBay has set itself up to become the first major tech company to employ alternative power as a primary energy source. In a press release dated June 21, 2012, ebay detailed their plans to build a flagship data center in Utah that will draw power from alternative energy fuel cells and not the national power grid, a system that is heavily dependent on coal plants.
The adoption of alternative energy will not only help boost eBay's green profile, but is also expected to help the state of Utah in establishing itself as a renewable energy leader.
From old technology to new green technology
Environmental groups and activists have long rebuked Internet companies for their heavy dependence on coal-fired power to run their data centers. Greenpeace, for example, recently went after Apple's iCloud, calling it "the dirtiest thing on the internet." And while there’s good reason to be skeptical of Greenpeace’s claims, it is true that much of the Internet we surf mindlessly day after day is, in fact, fueled by air-polluting coal.
A few companies online already use alternative energy to run their data centers, but only as a supplemental source. eBay's new data center will rely on six million watts of power generated on-site by fuel cells, which are a cleaner and more efficient energy source than coal, and use the electricity grid as a backup.
According to eBay President and CEO, John Donahoe, renewable energy is one of the next-generation technologies that will power eBay well into the future.
“Technology-led innovation is changing retail and revolutionizing how people shop and pay. We also want to revolutionize how shopping is powered… 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.”
eBay's new fuel cells, powered by Bloom Energy servers, are expected to be fully operational by this time next year.