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Facebook goes with the wind

By Fabio Bossi What Facebook is building in the city of Altoona, in the US state of Iowa, will be one of the world's most environmentally friendly data centers, because it will be powered by 100% renewable energy provided by a wind farm. When in April the same Facebook had announced the general details of the project, gi (…)

By Fabio Bossi

What Facebook is building in the city of Altoona, in the US state of Iowa, will be one of the world's most ecological data centers, because it will be powered by 100% renewable energy provided by a wind power plant. When in April Facebook itself announced the rough details of the project had already stated that the Altoona project would be the most advanced and energy-efficient plant of its kind. Now, with a post published on his blog, the company provides further details of the project, stating that by the time the data center is put into operation, that is during 2015, 100% of its energy needs will be provided by a wind farm built at a little over a hundred kilometers away, in the city of Wellsburg. The wind power plant that will supply the energy to the Facebook data center will be built and managed by the company MidAmerican Energy, which should finish the work already by 2014. The plant will actually not be connected exclusively to the Facebook data center, but will provide power to all MidAmerican Energy customers in the area. To declare that its facility in Altoona will be powered by 100% renewable energy Facebook uses the REC (Renewable Energy Certificates) certification issued by the Environmental Protection Agency for the creation of the Wellsburg wind farm. A Rec is issued for every 1,000 kWh of renewable energy fed into the network. Obviously the network mixes the energy produced from renewable sources with that coming from traditional power plants, and users of that electricity grid cannot know the origin of the energy they are using. The number of RECs that Facebook has obtained therefore certifies that the energy requirements of its Altoona data center will be lower than the production of the new wind power plant. The Wellsburg wind plant will produce something like 138 megawatts of clean energy. Thanks also to this plant, Facebook expects that by 2015 25% of its data center as a whole will be powered by renewable energy. In early 2013, the company had created its first data center outside the United States, Lulea in Sweden, which was also powered by renewable energy produced by hydroelectric power plants (only the nearby Lula river produces about 13.6 mWh of enough hydropower to meet 10% of Sweden's energy needs).