With almost half a million of its users now calling for Facebook to ditch dirty coal and go 100 per cent renewable, our friends over at Greenpeace International have an update on Facebook's connection to King Coal. Jodie Van Horn writes:

Facebook has added insult to injury in an ongoing controversy over its soon-to-be primarily coal-powered data center, currently under construction in Prineville, Oregon. The company announced Friday that it will more than double the size of its data storage facility, as the latest evidence of what is an accelerating industry-wide trend toward the need for ever bigger facilities that use even more electricity to serve the rapidly growing data needs of cloud-based computing.

Greenpeace and over half a million Facebook users continue to challenge the company to use renewable energy to power its data centers and to phase out coal entirely, featured on Fox National News just this past week.  

But in light of plans to double the size of its coal-reliant data center in Prineville without any announcement of new investments in clean sources of electricity, it seems Facebook still hasn’t gotten the message.  We also have to assume that the new Facebook environmental / energy policy reportedly adopted in response to the criticism they received for choosing coal for Prineville Phase 1 must still be waiting for Mark Zuckerberg’s signature, or perhaps it was so toothless you could run a coal train through it.  

Facebook’s failure to change course is not only environmentally irresponsible, but poses a significant risk for the company. Google, which entered into a long-term agreement with a large wind power producer earlier this month, has demonstrated that it is both possible to prioritize the purchase of clean energy, and, as Katie Fehrenbacher at Earth2Tech pointed out in a recent blog post, prudent. Clean energy is likely to get much cheaper over time, while the cost of carbon-intensive energy sources increases.

In May, Mike Manos of Nokia urged fellow tech leaders to preempt the risk of carbon legislation that will inevitably penalize dirty power users, such as coal-run data centers. He cautioned data center operators to choose the location for their facilities wisely and proactively seek renewable energy sources, or have to deal with the financial consequences later. Facebook has clearly failed to heed his call.

Facebook’s Prineville data center is to be run on Pacific Power’s energy mix, which in Oregon is comprised of 70 percent coal. The decision to double the data center rather than seek a location with greater renewable power capacity or make investments  in clean energy to power this facility (like Google has done) is perhaps another example of the company’s stubbornness in heeding the concerns of its customers. Unfortunately for both Facebook and its users, shifting the now even larger Prineville facility will be much more difficult than amending its privacy policy.

Both Facebook and its 500 million users would be better served by a company that takes its decisions over electricity supply seriously and doesn’t risk our future or its own by taking the cheap and easy route that increases demand for coal.

Read the complete statement Greenpeace issued today in reaction to Facebook’s news.

Join us in telling Facebook to use renewable energy... Where else, but on Facebook? http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/group.php?gid=311700724500&ref=ts