Users demand Facebook to switch to renewable energy

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Courtesy of Vital Efficienci Ltd.

Social networking website faces campaign to switch to renewable energy after announcing intentions to run new data centre mainly on coal-powered electricity.

Facebook, the most used social network worldwide, has come under unprecedented pressure from its users when they found out the company has intentions to run its massive new data centre mainly on electricity produced by burning coal power. In one of the web's fastest-growing environmental campaigns, at least 500,000 people have demanded Facebook to switch to renewable energy. Its massive new data centre mainly on electricity produced by burning coal power.

Facebook announced in February its plans to build what is expected to be the world's largest centralised data storage centre in Portland, Oregon. Although it will include some of the world's most energy-efficient computers, the sheer scale of the Facebook operation will almost certainly use more electricity than many developing countries.

Facebook has not declared how much electricity it uses to stream video, store information and to connect its 500m users. However, industry estimates that all the data centres and telecommunication networks in the world, at their present rate of growth will consume about 1,963bn kilowatt hours of electricity by 2020. That is more than triple their current consumption and more electricity than is used by France, Germany, Canada and Brazil combined.

Facebook claims the climate of the region allows higher energy-efficiency that minimizes their overall carbon footprint

Pacific Power is the source provider of electricity chosen by Facebook for its new data centre. The utility company uses coal power – the dirtiest form of power generation – for 67% of its electricity, and produces less than 12% of its electricity from renewable energy. Although, the company has said it plans to generate more electricity from renewables in future it has given no further information about that.

In a statement, Facebook said that despite Pacific Power has an energy mix more weighted toward coal than national average, the efficiency they could achieve because of the climate of the region and the reduced energy usage minimises their overall carbon footprint. To keep energy consumption to a minimum, Facebook's servers will be kept cool using fresh air rather than traditional air conditioning, with an evaporative cooling system kicking in when the climate is too warm.

Facebook also says it is using a new system that will cut its electricity consumption by up to 12%. However, 365,000 people have joined a group set up by Greenpeace on the Facebook website calling on the social networking giant to drop energy suppliers who use coal.
The director of Greenpeace International, Kumi Naidoo, urged Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to commit his company to a plan to phase out the use of dirty coal-fired electricity. In a letter to Facebook, Naidoo said: 'Facebook is uniquely positioned to be a truly visible and influential leader to drive the deployment of clean energy.'

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