Facebook has been under a heap of scrutiny for using mainly coal-fired power for its data centers. Now the world’s largest social networking site has announced a plan to utilize more renewable energy to partly power its corporate headquarters.
The company has also informed the public that power for the newest data center will come from several sources, including renewables, and will be one of the most energy efficient centers in the world.
Facebook’s headquarters will utilize solar power for hot water generation and electricity, created by a 24-module system built by Cogenra Solar. It will sit on the roof of Faceboook’s 10,000 square foot fitness center. It will provide hot water for showers and power exercise machines.
According to SF Gate, this is how the operation will work:
“Cogenra’s technology is designed to use energy that other solar set-ups waste. Photovoltaic panels absorb a small fraction of the energy the sun throws at them, typically 15 to 20 percent. The rest is wasted as heat. Cogenra arrays, however, run fluid-filled tubes behind the solar cells, with the fluid absorbing some of the heat cast off by the cells. The fluid – a chemical compound kept in a sealed loop – then transfers the heat to water. Curved troughs of mirrors concentrate sunlight on the cells, while motors keep the troughs pointed at the sun as it arcs across the sky.“
The system will only generate about 10 kilowatts of electricity and 50 kilwatts of thermal energy, a small number compared to the large scale of Facebook’s overall operations. However, John Tenanes, Facebook director of global facilities, says the company will likely expand the system over time, using the hot water system in the headquarters’ cafes and other establishments.
This sounds like the beginning of a larger investment in renewable energy on Facebook’s part. Since the company is now large, here’s to hoping that is going to be the case.