Facebook's next data center to rely only on renewable energy

The company will invest at least $500M in a 110-acre site in Texas

Fort Worth data center rendering

Facebook's planned new data center in Fort Worth, Texas.

Credit: Facebook

Facebook is building a new data center in Fort Worth, Texas, that will be powered entirely by renewable energy.

The company will invest at least US$500 million in the 110-acre site, which is expected to come online late next year.

The new location will be the social-networking giant's fifth such facility, joining existing data centers in Altoona, Iowa; Prineville, Oregon; Forest City, North Carolina; and Luleå, Sweden. It will feature equipment based on the latest in Facebook's Open Compute Project data-center hardware designs, it said.

For sustainability, the Fort Worth data center will be cooled using outdoor air rather than energy-intensive air conditioners, thanks to technology it pioneered in its Oregon location. Those designs are now offered through the Open Compute Project.

It will also be powered entirely by renewable energy as a result of a new, 200-megawatt wind project now under construction on a 17,000-acre site in nearby Clay County. Facebook has collaborated on that project with Citigroup Energy, Alterra Power Corporation and Starwood Energy Group; it expects the new source to begin delivering clean energy to the grid by 2016.

Facebook says its infrastructure efficiency efforts have helped it save more than $2 billion over the last three years. The carbon impact of one person's use of Facebook for an entire year, meanwhile, is now equivalent to that of a medium latte, Facebook said Tuesday.

The company aims to power its data centers with 50 percent renewable energy by the end of 2018, according to Jay Parikh, its vice president of engineering.

"Facebook's new goal of using 50 percent renewable energy and commitment to powering its Texas data center with clean wind power demonstrates the kind of transparency needed to show that it is making steady progress toward its goal of using 100 percent renewable energy," David Pomerantz, senior climate and energy campaigner with Greenpeace, said in a statement.

In sharp contrast, Pomerantz added, is Amazon Web Services, which "has failed to explain how it will power its newly announced data centers in Ohio and India, despite the company's commitment to use 100 percent renewable energy."

Amazon didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

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