Facebook Friends Clean Energy Pact With Greenpeace

PALO ALTO, California, December 15, 2011 (ENS) – Facebook and Greenpeace will collaborate on the promotion of renewable energy, encourage major utilities to develop renewable energy generation, and enable Facebook users to save energy and engage their communities in clean energy decisions, the two organizations jointly announced today.

The agreement comes two years after Greenpeace launched its Unfriend Coal Campaign, enlisting activists around the world to go online to send comments to Facebook urging that its data centers be powered with clean energy rather than coal.

The Unfriend Coal Campaign was supported by over 700,000 Facebook users in 14 countries, and set the Guinness World Record for most Facebook comments in a single day.

Technician works with Facebook servers in the Prineville, Oregon data center. (Image from a video courtesy Facebook)

As a result of Facebook’s announcement Greenpeace is ending its Unfriend Coal Campaign today.

The energy used to power data centers, such as those operated by Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, IBM and other large online services totals more than two percent of U.S. electricity demand, and is projected to grow 12 percent per year.

Greenpeace says that a major reason it pressured Facebook to use cleaner energy was that the company chose to run its first two self-owned data centers primarily with coal-fired power plants.

But in October Facebook announced that the company will start constructing its first data center outside the United States, close to the Arctic Circle, in Lulea, Sweden. There, the data center can use free cooling from the icy local climate and be close to renewable hydropower in the region.

“Greenpeace and Facebook will now work together to encourage major energy producers to move away from coal and instead invest in renewable energy. This move sets an example for the industry to follow,” said Tzeporah Berman, co-director of Greenpeace’s International Climate and Energy Program. “This shift to clean, safe energy choices will help fight global warming and ensure a stronger economy and healthier communities.”

Facebook’s goal, announced today, is to power its operations, including its data centers, using renewable energy. The company will encourage other IT companies to power their operations with clean, renewable energy.

“Facebook looks forward to a day when our primary energy sources are clean and renewable, and we are working with Greenpeace and others to help bring that day closer,” said Marcy Scott Lynn of Facebook’s sustainability program.

Facebook has installed an array of solar panels at the Prineville, Oregon data center that will produce 204 kilowatt hours/year to power office lights and equipment. (Image from a video courtesy Facebook)

“As an important step, our data center siting policy now states a preference for access to clean and renewable energy. Another important step will be to work with Greenpeace to put the power of our platform to use for the environment,” said Lynn.

As part of their agreement Greenpeace and Facebook will develop and promote experiences on Facebook that help people and organizations connect with ways to save energy and activate their communities to support clean energy.

“Greenpeace has been particularly effective using Facebook to spark environmental awareness and action, we are excited to work with them to explore new ways in which people can use Facebook to engage and connect on the range of energy issues that matter most to them – from their own energy efficiency to access to cleaner sources of energy,” she said.

As part of the agreement, the Facebook will pursue ongoing research into energy efficiency and the open sharing of that technology through the Open Compute Project, which Greenpeace will work to support.

Announced in April, Facebook’s Open Compute Project shares the custom-engineered technology in its first dedicated data center in Prineville, Oregon, which delivered a 38 percent increase in energy efficiency at 24 percent lower cost for Facebook. The specifications and best practices behind those gains are being made available to companies across the industry.

Facebook also plans to engage in dialogue with utility providers about the sources of energy that power their data centers.

Greenpeace makes extensive use of Facebook to bring its supporters into its campaigns, and is the most ‘liked’ environmental nonprofit organization on Facebook.

“Facebook’s commitment to renewable energy raises the bar for other IT and cloud computing companies such as Apple, IBM, Microsoft, and Twitter,” said Casey Harrell, senior IT analyst for Greenpeace International. “The Facebook campaign proved that people all over the world want their social networks powered by renewable energy, and not by coal.”

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2011. All rights reserved.