Facebook update: Switch to renewable energy now

Greening Facebook from within

Feature story - February 19, 2010
Facebook recently announced it will build a massive data centre in Oregon, U.S., packed full of the latest energy efficient computers to serve the hundreds of millions of friends connecting on their near-addictive social networking website. But the company plans to run the place on electricity made by burning coal--Yes, the dirtiest source of energy and largest single source of global warming pollution in the world.

Facebook.com shouldn't run on coal. Facebook should commit to renewable power for all its servers as soon as possible.

Facebook should be run on 100 percent renewable energy. That clear demand started spreading on the social network website this week, and will grow until the company announces a decision to really go green. The new data centre won't be ready until 2011, and people power has moved the company before.

When Facebook members have spoken strongly in the past on privacy and other changes that impact their profile pages, the company has been forced to change its policies.

In addition to keeping coal from powering your profile page, big electricity consumers like Facebook can also play an important role by using its influence to demand policies that dramatically increase the supply of renewable electricity being put on the grid, so we can all use renewable energy--and not coal--to power the internet.

Facebook's relationship to coal: "It's not complicated"

PacifiCorp is the power company which Facebook chose to supply their new US$ 180 million data centre in Prineville, Oregon. According to PacifiCorp's website, over 83 percent of the utility's generation capabilities come from coal, geothermal, and natural gas resources. Correction: Pacific Power, whose parent company is PacifiCorp, gets almost 60 percent of its energy from burning coal. Facebook also went to a state, Oregon, with only one existing in-state coal plant (that's shutting down within the decade) and instead decided to throw its lot with a utility that imports dirty coal from Wyoming, two states over.

Meanwhile Facebook says that the new building and all the technology within it will be state of the art, energy efficient stuff. Saving energy makes good business sense, and it's good for the environment too. But data centres still consume massive amounts of energy to run computers, backup power, and related cooling equipment. If Facebook's data centre runs on fossil fuels, then it's contributing to climate change.

Facebook should commit to stop using coal and choose renewable power for all its servers as soon as possible. What's more, to be a climate leader Facebook should also push for strong clean energy and climate policies in the U.S. and globally.

Which side are you on?

Data centres are heavy users of electricity. It's been a while since Facebook was run on a small computer in a Harvard University dorm. As the popularity of facebook.com continues to grow, so too will Facebook's need for more data centres.

Companies who run their data centres on energy from burning coal are supporting the biggest source of man made CO2 emissions in the world. Our activists will continue to protest against coal-fired power plants. But getting companies like Facebook to switch to renewables is necessary for the energy revolution too -- reducing demand for coal, and investing in a green future instead.

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Blog: How Facebook (and other IT companies) can help kick coal off your computer

Spanish: Queremos que Facebook utilice 100% energía renovable

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