Clean Power

Published on January 30th, 2016 | by Guest Contributor


€200 Million Facebook Data To Be 100% Powered By Renewables

January 30th, 2016 by  

Originally published on Sustainnovate.
By Henry Lindon

Facebook Building €200 Million Data Center In Ireland, To Be Powered 100% By Renewables

The social media giant Facebook will be building a new €200 million data center in Ireland that will get 100% of its electricity from renewable energy projects, according to recent reports. The data center will also reportedly utilize intelligent air intake design to help cut down on cooling costs.

The new data center will be Facebook’s second in Europe once completed (set for late 2017 or early 2018, currently), and will be located in Clonee, outside of Dublin.

The company’s Vice President of Infrastructure, Tom Furlong, commented in a blog post that the new facility would be powered with the country’s renewable wind resources, and that it would feature state-of-the-art technologies designed to reduce overall energy use.

“All the racks, servers, and other components have been designed and built from scratch as part of the Open Compute Project, an industry-wide coalition of companies dedicated to creating energy- and cost-efficient infrastructure solutions and sharing them as open source,” he stated.

This is all worth taking note of, as data centers are ridiculously energy intensive, representing a substantial (and rapidly growing) portion of overall energy use nowadays. Many insiders have been arguing in recent years that this may lead to the need for new taxes or higher data charges, if the Internet is going to be maintained in its current form.

A data center engineer and visiting professor at the University of Leeds, by the name of Professor Ian Bitterlin, stated recently:

“If we carry on going the way we have been it would become unsustainable — this level of data center growth is not sustainable beyond the next 10 to 15 years. The question is, what are we going to do about it?”

Notably, Facebook is aiming to receive half of its electricity needs (for all of its operations) via renewable energy sources by the end of 2018.

Image by mkhmarketing (some rights reserved)

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  • Plutonius

    Facebook could be 100 per cent renewable within a month, if they want to. They can buy electricity from existing wind and solar plants. But they aim for 50 per cent by end of 2018.
    They don’t pay a lot of tax either.

  • Bristolboy

    The Irish wind resource is massive, and also very economical to utilise. The main problem is the lack of local demand, turbines often have to be “curtailed” on windy nights as it exceeds local demand and interconnectors to the UK are at capacity. As further turbines are being installed, the times of “curtailment” are increasing.

    Temperatures in Ireland also rarely get top high, there is an educated workforce, good data connections and a favourable tax regime.

    Situating data centres in Ireland thus makes a lot of sense and I expect to see many more as time progresses.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Build more transmission to England where they don’t want to install turbines. Sell them electricity and boost the Irish economy.

      England is currently being run by doofuses who think it makes sense to pay 15 cents for electricity. Make them an offer they can’t refuse.

      • Bristolboy

        Unfortunately, it will likely be a number of years before we see any further interconnection capacity between Ireland and GB. There was plans for an interconnector between Wales and Ireland (Greenlink), however, this didn’t get support from OFGEM (a UK government body) due to it “not being in the consumer interest”. Whilst this is currently being reviewed once again, it is further delays to a project which is likely to take 5 years to be operational once fully consented etc.

        I know it is going completely off topic, but I can imagine interconnectors from GB to France, Belgium, Norway and Denmark will be built before further capacity to Ireland. Unfortunately interconnectors are costly and take large capacity (500MW+). I see Ireland having a benefit of “exporting” the cheap wind power in other ways, eg through the operation of data centres etc. This will be a slightly more modern version of how Iceland exports it’s massive amounts of cheap renewable electricity through “refining” bauxite into aluminium which is highly energy intensive.

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