Facebook takes heat for new Oregon data center’s use of coal

“Most electrical commercial and residential power in the United States comes from a variety of sources,” he said.

Facebook will be receiving power from PacifiCorp, a utility that generates power through hydro, geothermal, wind and coal.

“When it comes online in early 2011, the new Facebook data center will also be one of the most energy efficient in the world, featuring an innovative cooling system created for the unique climate characteristics in Prineville,” he said.

It will use an evaporative cooling system, an airside economizer that will bring colder air in from the outside, and re-use server heat to warm office space in the colder months. The whole facility will be built to LEED Gold standards.

Besides Oregon’s famous hydroelectric power supply, the state was an enticing location because of the tax breaks given to Facebook for building the center. The area surrouding Prineville has 17 percent unemployment.

As more and more consumers and businesses rely on “cloud computing” services powered by the servers in data centers, the massive amount of energy consumed by the data centers will be a growing concern.

In 2000, data centers comprised 0.8 percent of total US electrical consumption. In 2005, data centers’ power consumption grew to 1.4 percent of the total energy use in the country, according to the Energy Information Administration.

That will undoubtedly continue to increase as governments move to cloud services and more companies build their own server facilities.


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