Facebook’s datacentre landlord strikes deal to add solar power

TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY ANNA-KARIN LAMPOU (FILES) This picture taken with a fisheye lens on November 7, 2013 in Luleaa, Swedish Lapland shows Joel Kjellgren, Data Center Manager walking in one of the server rooms Facebook users worldwide in the company's Data Center, its first outside the US. The company began construction on the facility in October 2011 and went live on June 12, 2013 and are 100% run on hydro power. AFP PHOTO/JONATHAN NACKSTRAND

Facebook Inc is boosting its clean-energy efforts with a deal to help run a Virginia datacentre where it leases space with solar power. 

Digital Realty Trust Inc, which operates the facility, agreed to buy about 80 megawatts of solar capacity from a project that SunEnergy1 expects to complete in North Carolina later this year. The social-media giant will get all of the associated renewable-energy certificates from the project, according to a statement Jan 24 from Digital Realty. 

The deal is the most recent example of how companies’ demand for clean power is driving innovative solutions for arranging it. Facebook is among the technology titans that are intent on powering all of their operations – including power-hungry datacentres – with solar and wind energy. While the company arranges renewable energy for its own facilities, doing so has been harder at colocation centres like the ones operated by Digital Realty. 

“You’re pretty much renting space, so you don’t control the relationship with the utility or the energy supply,” said Bobby Hollis, director of global energy and site selection for Facebook. “It’s always created a lot of complexity for tech companies like ourselves.” 

For Digital Realty, a US$22bil (RM90.99bil) real estate investment trust, the deal represents another way it can entice customers to lease its space. Nine of the company’s 20 largest customers are aiming to run their operations entirely with clean energy, said Aaron Binkley, head of the real estate investment trust’s sustainability initiatives. 

“We read those tea leaves and said, ‘Look, this is something that’s of value to our customers’,” Binkley said. – Bloomberg

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