Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! No Flash necessary and runs on all devices. ×
Facebook Data Storage Power

Facebook's New Data Center To Be Powered Entirely By Renewables 80

totalcaos writes: Facebook's new $500 million data center in Forth Worth will be powered entirely by renewable energy, thanks to a 200-megawatt wind project nearby. The data center will come online next year, and the company further plans to power the rest of its data centers with at least 50% renewables by the end of 2018. It's long-term goal is 100%. They claim the carbon impact of one person's yearly Facebook use is roughly the same as the impact of one medium latte.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Facebook's New Data Center To Be Powered Entirely By Renewables

Comments Filter:
  • The power of bullshit never ceases to amaze!

    • The power of bullshit never ceases to amaze!

      At least they are not taking that phrase literally! A benefit of converting cow manure into renewable energy prevents harmful methane from reaching the atmosphere.

      However it does seem to be a big advertisement campaign, which company can be 'green' and still make money off that process. The big companies won't truly make an effort to be environmentally conscious it would cost them too much.

      • Follow the money. When you start talking about companies in their entirety, that's all it comes down to; the bottom dollar.

      • However it does seem to be a big advertisement campaign, which company can be 'green' and still make money off that process.

        ...and unless there is nothing connected to that data center but solar panels and wind turbines, a big advertisement campaign is all that this is.

        Power off the grid is, like oil on the global market, fungible - the electrons aren't tagged with their method of liberation and cannot be filtered by same, so if Facebook's DC is plugged into the local grid, it's getting the same power as everyone else, and that power is coming from every conceivable source that is feeding that grid. Oh, but they parked themselve

        • I'm not sure why that matters. If they're building a wind farm that offsets the power going into their DC, then who cares if the electrons are mixed together? Geez.

  • by wonkey_monkey ( 2592601 ) on Wednesday July 08, 2015 @06:50AM (#50067921) Homepage

    They claim the carbon impact of one person's yearly Facebook use is roughly the same as the impact of one medium latte.

    Great. We've moved into a whole new era of hipster-friendly casual units of measurement.

    Henceforth, length of text will no longer be measured in Libraries of Congress, but in multiples of either Gravity's Rainbow or Atlas Shrugged.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Also, one would think that the carbon impact of one latte would actually be quite substantial, from importing, transporting, roasting, grinding the beans. Heating the water. Feeding the cow, bringing the fresh hipster milk from the cow etc etc.

      • by danlip ( 737336 )

        The carbon impact from FB is also much bigger then they are claiming - I am sure that is just the power consumption at their data center, and does not include the power to make the equipment used at their data-center, nor the power to transmit all that data from them to the end-user, nor the power that the end-user's computer uses.

    • That is a useful unit for carbon credits, though. I've skipped my latte, so my year of Facebook is guilt free!
  • I RTFA but they didn't mention any energy storage component. What do they do when the wind isn't ideal?
    • Re:Energy Storage? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Mr D from 63 ( 3395377 ) on Wednesday July 08, 2015 @06:52AM (#50067931)

      I RTFA but they didn't mention any energy storage component. What do they do when the wind isn't ideal?

      You create wind using accounting tricks.

    • Everything else will still work, but there'll be no pictures of cats. That's what this one data centre is dedicated to.

      One floor consists of nothing but custom servers implementing rendering of the "Impact" font entirely in hardware.

    • Of course, they are not powered only by renewables, but also by the conventional grid when wind is not blowing. The windmills happen to generate more than need during certain times, so they take credit for that.

      That's all fine, but they don't say how many taxpayer $$ are taken to help pay this power bill. I don't use facebook and I don't want my tax $$ paying for their power. They have plenty of money to afford this higher cost option without government help.
      • by Bengie ( 1121981 )
        By saying you don't want FB getting tax breaks for renewables is akin to saying you don't want anyone getting tax breaks. What do you have against renewables? Maybe instead of tax breaks for renewables, you want increased taxes on non-renewables to make them more expensive?
        • I don't want to pay FB's power bill. Period. I have nothing against renewables. I don't want increased taxes anywhere.

          I think if we are going to use our tax $$ to pay for power bills, it should be limited to public schools, and maybe lower income people.
          • Then maybe you should start investing in renewables. Then other people will pay your power bill. That's the whole point of tax breaks/hikes - to encourage changes in societal norms for the betterment of the whole country.

            If you're paying someone else's xyz bill through your taxes, that's because they're doing something good for society that you aren't - start helping society, and everyone else will pay your bills.

            • If I use my money to take the risks and inves,t and I make money, then it is I who will pay for whatever I use that money for. If FB wants to pay their power bill via investments, that would be absolutely wonderful and I'd be all behind that. But that is much different than getting a handout.
              • Again - the point of the government is to manage society working together. You are effectively saying "I don't want to be part of a society or attempt to contribute anything to it".

                The reason the government is regulating it is because simple capitalist free markets will not get the ball rolling on what everyone can plainly see is a social good.

                Again - if you don't want to lose out - start investing in the things that society has determined are good for the country as a whole. Simple.

                • Again - the point of the government is to manage society working together. You are effectively saying "I don't want to be part of a society or attempt to contribute anything to it".

                  No, and I don't see how you could possibly read that into my responses. I could take the same approach and assume that you are OK with any and all tax credits, no matter what they are for, or who benefits the most... but that would be just as ridiculous.

                  I fully understand the usefulness of incentives and subsidies. But that doesn't mean I have to agree with all of them, or how they are implemented. I disagree with how renewables incentives are structured. I don't disagree with having them at all. I see n

        • Lower income people already get huge tax breaks and subsidies, to the point where they have no "skin in the game" and are thus willing to vote for fiscally unsustainable policies.

          There should be no subsidies, tax breaks or supertaxes for anybody, with externalities rationally included. A level playing field for all.

          Per-student spending for K-12 has tripled in real terms over the last 40 years, with no improvement in academic outcomes. During periods where school spending decreased, there were no changes

          • Per-student spending for K-12 has tripled in real terms over the last 40 years, with no improvement in academic outcomes. During periods where school spending decreased, there were no changes in academic ability either.

            That's because school spending has not increased in the classroom itself. All of the increased spending has been to increase the number of administrative staff. In some districts the administrator to student ratio is lower than the teacher to student ratio.
            In the school district where I went to school, the administrative staff consisted of a principal and 2 or 3 secretaries per school. Now, there is an entire separate building to house the administration for the school district. The number of students in

      • I don't know the government subsidy/tax credit, what is the law in Texas regarding wind power? Is there any real subsidy? The site being built is the Shannon Wind Project [prnewswire.com].
        • I don't know the government subsidy/tax credit, what is the law in Texas regarding wind power? Is there any real subsidy?

          There are a variety of renewables credits/subsidies, both federal and state. You can find some of the choices here (this is the Texas list);

          http://energy.gov/savings/sear... [energy.gov]

    • by OzPeter ( 195038 )

      I RTFA but they didn't mention any energy storage component. What do they do when the wind isn't ideal?

      This wind power failure meme needs to die .. there are many well proven approaches to energy storage that have been used since before grid sized renewables were even a twinkle in their designers eyes.

      A prime example is Pumped storage [wikipedia.org] which is being used All over the world [wikipedia.org]

      • by nojayuk ( 567177 )

        Pumped storage and all other storage systems cost money to build and operate (construction costs for pumped storage are about $200 million/GWh) and they waste energy in the storage/regeneration cycle (about 30% losses for pumped storage round-trip). The renewables boosters never mention these costs and resulting energy losses when claiming how economic solar and wind are, focusing instead only on the peak generating capacity of new-build renewable plant and pretending the large amount of combined-cycle gas

      • This wind power failure meme needs to die .. there are many well proven approaches to energy storage that have been used since before grid sized renewables were even a twinkle in their designers eyes.

        So, which of the many well proven approaches is being used here? TFA seems to have overlooked mentioning that.

        And on an almost unrelated note, TFA did mention using outdoor air to cool their data center. A process they used in Oregon. I'm wondering if the difference between central Texas and Oregon is going

        • by jbengt ( 874751 )
          I gather from the scant information in TFA that they are not actually using green energy, except as an accounting gimmick to pay for energy from the wind farm that is connected to the whole grid.

          TFA says: "For sustainability, the Fort Worth data center will be cooled using outdoor air rather than energy-intensive air conditioners, thanks to technology it pioneered in its Oregon location."
          Fort Worth summer cooling design temperature is typically figured well over 100F, with wet bulb temperatures approachi
    • This is in North Texas, there's always wind.

  • by swb ( 14022 ) on Wednesday July 08, 2015 @06:56AM (#50067947)

    Is this one of those things where they site near a wind farm and tick a box on a form that says they want to buy green power but in reality the actual electrons that enter the data center are "from the grid" and not actually exclusively produced from renewable sources?

    It would be more impressive if the data center was completely powered by renewables ONLY and unable to tap into the non-renewable sources of the grid. Basically, make it an off grid only data center. But I imagine that this would be much harder and more expensive than simply checking a box and producing a spreadsheet that says you use renewable sources when in fact you're probably using baseline power from non-renewable sources.

    • by OzPeter ( 195038 ) on Wednesday July 08, 2015 @07:20AM (#50068043)

      Is this one of those things where they site near a wind farm and tick a box on a form that says they want to buy green power but in reality the actual electrons that enter the data center are "from the grid" and not actually exclusively produced from renewable sources?

      Whats worse is that after you buy those electrons from the power companies and use them in your process, you give them back for free. Imagine the overall cost savings you could have if someone developed a market for used electrons and you could sell what you didn't need. I bet that its those power companies that are suppressing that idea so that they can hold on to all those $$$.

      But to answer your question. If the Green power company pours X amount of electrons into the grid, and the FB pays that company $$ to pull X electrons from the grid and uses them to power their data center, then what is the problem if they also mix with electrons from other sources? What you are proposing (dedicated onsite, pure green power stations for each enterprise) would be cost prohibitive and stupid for a number of reasons - such as not utilizing scales of economy in the power generation, having to colocate the data centers at the site of the renewable generation, and finally having zero redundancy in their power supplies.

      • by swb ( 14022 ) on Wednesday July 08, 2015 @07:30AM (#50068095)

        What I'm proposing is a little more honesty in PR.

        I think the basic technical fact is that this data center won't be "exclusively renewable" except on paper. The reality is that it will rely on non-renewable baseline power.

        So it seems kind of dishonest to say it's a "renewable only" datacenter.

        • What I'm proposing is a little more honesty in PR.

          What you're doing is complicating the issue because... who knows? Because you have sand in your asscrack? Why don't you go antagonize some of the members of the MIC who outright lie every time they communicate? You've got to pick on someone who's supporting renewables? Show me on the picture where the wind farm touched you.

          • by mlts ( 1038732 )

            What matters is that the big companies are at least doing something (how much is debatable... but it is definitely a provable something) about energy and using renewables in some shape or form.

            This isn't perfect, and one argument I read is that "if it isn't 100%, it isn't worth doing." However, it it means less coal in the air... that's a good thing.

            I have to agree with the parent here -- FB doing -anything- to deal with the energy problem is a lot better than nothing. It may not be perfect, and it might

        • by dave420 ( 699308 ) on Wednesday July 08, 2015 @08:29AM (#50068533)
          No, you are arguing for a level of pedantry sufficient to make the precise point you want to make. Arrangements like this are "exclusively renewable" as the agreed amounts of renewable energy put in to the "pot" and taken out of it are the same. That's it. That's how it works, how it has worked in the past in non-renewable power production, and how it will continue to work in the future. If your pedantry clouds your rational mind, you might want to consider giving one up for the sake of the other... The choice of which is yours, naturally.
          • Well that depends on the contract. It's true he's being over pedantic about the flow of electrons but what if you pay for green power that doesn't run? Or over provision your green power?

            Your local energy company has 1x 1MW rewnewable source say solar, wind, whatever, and when you use the power from the grid and pay the extra for "green power" you get to call yourself carbon neutral. But what if your neighbour also does it, and their neighbour, and theirs etc. Eventually the 1MW won't be enough. You now hav

    • Is this one of those things where they site near a wind farm and tick a box on a form that says they want to buy green power but in reality the actual electrons that enter the data center are "from the grid" and not actually exclusively produced from renewable sources?

      Probably, because that's what anyone with a brain would do.

      It would be more impressive if the data center was completely powered by renewables ONLY and unable to tap into the non-renewable sources of the grid. Basically, make it an off grid only data center. But I imagine that this would be much harder and more expensive than simply checking a box and producing a spreadsheet that says you use renewable sources when in fact you're probably using baseline power from non-renewable sources.

      What's even more environmentally friendly than your idea, is if instead of manufacturing unnecessary and inefficient energy storage and infrastructure, inefficiently co-locating their wind farm and servers or inefficient transmission, and wasteful backup power source in case of trouble with the wind farm... they could just connect to the grid. Their carbon footprint will be lower than what you are suggesting.

    • You might be more impressed, but it would be stupid and not beneficial to anybody.

      Being part of the grid means renewables can assist in reducing local peak power demand when there is excess power generated by renewables, thus stabilizing the grid.

      The obsession some people have with "off-grid" implementations is unreasonable and deleterious economically and environmentally. The end goal should never be to be off-grid; it should be to make the entire grid renewable.
  • Is that a European or an American Latte?

    It's kinda important .. sort of like swallows and coconuts.

  • ...while I wait for the carbon footprint report of the other side of this equation, also known as a billion Facebook addicts sucking up a metric fuckton of energy abusing this latte-powered data center.

    Their energy claims is like presenting a single flower sticking out of a cow pie as a gift.

  • We need more information to determine if the facebook power budget is excessive. Was this a Starbucks latte? A Tim Hortons Latte? A caribou coffee latte? Maybe it was the environmentally friendly post-processed kopi-luwak shit latte?

  • Now whenever you post to Facebook you will slow the weather patterns downwind from their complex. ;-P
    • Robbing energy from the wind is perhaps poorly studied and less well understood, but there's no doubt it will alter something, for better or worse.

      That's a common theme with all earthly human energy generation, though, whether you're talking about petroleum products, nuclear generation, coal-burning, solar energy collection, or room temperature fusion.

      The more interesting equation is how many self-supporting renewable farms can the grid support before it's no longer profitable?

      • Robbing energy from the wind is perhaps poorly studied and less well understood, but there's no doubt it will alter something, for better or worse.

        Robbing energy from the wind is highly studied and well understood, and it results in a minimal localized heating effect [smithsonianmag.com] (lack of cooling effect, actually) immediately downwind of the actual turbine, which is rapidly lost in the statistical noise. If you were able to use google you'd know this already. You do have to learn to filter out the hits from obvious idiots, but since your rhetoric matches theirs, you're probably suffering from confirmation bias. I know it can be hard to wade through the hits from j

  • Are they factoring it the power costs of building all those wind farms and the data center?

    I'm sure it' s not small.

    • We have a lot of wind farms already in North Texas, West of Fort Worth it's high plains and prairie making it ideal for that purpose.

  • One latte has indeed the same effect on me as a FB account.

  • Is anyone tracking the numbers of corps and megawatts claiming to be Green based on this wind project or even all alternative energy projects lumped together? The power companies certainly know the balance of power generated and used all the time since they have to make up the balance. It would be "interesting" to see the corresponding $benefits (tax breaks, refunds, etc.) to all the Green claims stacked against the renewable power actually provided.

    In other words, is anyone checking to see that only 200MW

  • Every watt of power we suck from the Sun only contributes to it going supernova that much sooner.

A holding company is a thing where you hand an accomplice the goods while the policeman searches you.

Working...