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Facebook wins friends with aim to boost clean energy use

By Adrian Bishop - 02 Aug 2012 10:42:59 GMT
Facebook wins friends with aim to boost clean energy use

FB Server Room; Credit: © Facebook

Leading social media site, Facebook, is winning more friends with its goal to use more renewable energy. Last year, Facebook used 23% renewable and clean energy to power its offices and data centres around the world, its latest figures show. But within three years, Facebook is aiming to increase that to at least 25%.

The move to increase renewable energy use and the transparency Facebook have shown about energy usage and carbon footprint has been welcomed by top eco campaigners, Greenpeace International.

Gary Cook, Senior IT Analyst at Greenpeace International, says, "Facebook has committed to being fully renewably powered, and today's detailed disclosure and announcement of a clean energy target shows that the company means business and wants the world to follow its progress."

Facebook - which allows people to stay in touch with friends around the world - says it has releases the figures on its energy use, make-up and carbon footprint in a bid to be open and to help others in the sector to increase use of renewables.

The company's greenhouse gas emissions from its offices, data centres and travel came to 285,000 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent and it used 532 million kWh of energy.

In addition to renewable energy, it consumed 27% of its energy from coal, 17% from natural gas, 13% from nuclear and 20% from energy bought from utilities on the spot market from any of the other sources.

The report says each Facebook user has a carbon footprint of 269grams a year - the equivalent of a medium latte, three big bananas or two glasses of wine.

For a couple of years, the percentage of clean energy use is unlike to improve much, but when Facebook completes its data centre in Lulea, Sweden, in 2014, it will rise. Other plans are also being put in place to increase renewables.

While choosing areas for new data centres, it will favour those areas with access to clean energy sources and will include renewable energy components - such as solar arrays - in every new development.

Facebook also aims to take advice from respected environmental organisations such as Greenpeace.

It is also aiming to help its 950 million users become more aware of environmentally-friendly options, including enabling them to track home energy use through its Green on Facebook page.

facebook energy mix

Facebook energy mix 2011 graphic; Credit: © Facebook

Greenpeace International says the 25% renewable energy goal is a key target toward Facebook's aim of being completely powered by clean and renewable energy.

The pressure group runs an Unfriend Coal campaign, which urges Facebook users to put pressure on the company to use more clean energy sources.

Greenpeace also urged other online companies, such as Amazon, to be open about their energy mix and use, especially considering the growth in cloud computing, which allows large amounts of shared data to be stored and accessed.

Gary Cook adds, "The aggregate energy footprint of the cloud would already rank fifth among countries in terms of electricity demand and is expected to triple or quadruple in the very near future."

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Topics: Renewable Energy