The world's largest social networking site recently announced plans to utilize more renewable energy to power it's new Menlo Park, Calif., headquarters.
Last year, Facebook was scrutinized by its users for using coal to supply the energy for its massive data centers. The company responded by reminding the public that power for its newest data center would come from multiple sources, including renewables, and would be one of the most energy efficient in the world.
But it's clear that some of that negative attention made an impact on Facebook decision makers.
The company recently announced that its newly acquired headquarters would utilize solar power for both electricity and hot water generation. The 24-module system to be built by Cogenra Solar will sit on the roof of Facebook’s 10,000 square foot fitness center, powering exercise machines and heating water for showers. SF Gate has more on how it 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 solar system will only be able to generate about 10 kw of electricity and 50 kw of thermal energy, which makes it fairly small as far as commercial arrays are concerned. But Facebook director of global facilities John Tenanes said the company could later expand the system, perhaps using the hot water in on-campus cafes. He described the Cogenra system as Facebook’s initial investment in solar power.
Since Facebook shows no signs of slowing down any time soon, we applaud them for this small but significant first step. We only wish more mega-corps viewed renewable energy as an investment instead of a burden.