EBay to Use Social Innovation in Alternative Power

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EBay to Use Social Innovation in Alternative Power

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.@EBay to use social innovation to be the first major tech company to use alternative power http://bit.ly/NgUgMn #energy #socinno @Justmeans
Tuesday, July 10, 2012 - 9:00pm

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EBay will be the first major tech company to use alternative power as a primary source to handle its data centres instead of the national power grid, which runs on coal plants—though the new centres will still connect to the electricity grid for backup.EBay plans to use about six million watts of power generated on-site by fuel cells, which are a cleaner and more efficient source of energy than coal, at its new data centre in South Jordan, Utah. The company also operates PayPal, the online payment service, out of the South Jordan site.

Bloom Energy, a private company in Sunnyvale, California will make these social innovation fuel cells. Peter Gross, vice president of mission critical systems at Bloom, thinks that there's nothing currently comparable to the data centre redesign to be undertaken by eBay and says, "It is an extraordinary step to do something that has never been done before." The cells are large batteries whose charge is maintained by the hydrocarbon energy contained in natural gas. Although the Bloom cells function at high temperatures internally, the charge is maintained by chemical reactions, not combustion, so the efficiencies are much higher than at an ordinary power plant. The reactions produce mainly carbon dioxide and water and by generating power on-site, the fuel cells save energy that is normally dissipated as electricity runs though transmission lines.

The Bloom cells can also run on bio fuel, a social innovation by-product of landfills and animal waste at large industrial farms. Annie Lescroart, an eBay spokeswoman, said that in another bow to the environment, the company would pay a premium to enable the production of biogas somewhere in the U.S. in amounts comparable to its gas usage in South Jordan.

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Sangeeta Haindl is a staff writer for Justmeans on Social Enterprise. When not writing for Justmeans, Sangeeta wears her other hat as a PR professional. Over the years, she has worked with high-profile organizations within the public, not-for-profit and corporate sectors; and won awards from her industry. She now runs her own UK consultancy: Serendipity PR & Media.

Keywords: Energy | Cause Global | Social investment | best practices | social innovation

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