Social networking giant Facebook today announced plans for three new data centres in Lulea, Sweden, just 60 miles from the Arctic circle. They will be the company’s first data centres outside the US.
Construction on the first of the three facilities will begin this month, and is slated for completion in December 2012. The 28,000 square-metre site is expected to cost company almost £80 million, covering when finished.
Facebook plans to use the atmospheric temperature to cool the data centres for between 8 and 10 months of the year. They will use 85% less diesel fuel for back-up generators, the company says, thanks to ‘dual redundanct substations’, which feed power from two independent sources. "The redundant substations allow us to reduce the number of generators installed by approximately 70% and minimize the environmental impact due to reduced emission and fuel storage," Facebook said in a statement.
Environomental pressure group Greenpeace, which in the past has criticised Facebook’s use of electricity generated by burning coal, welcomed the development of a data centre that could be fully powered by renewable energy, but called on the company to go further and use green energy in all its data centres.
Casey Harrell, Greenpeace IT analyst, wants more details on what proportion of renewable energy the new data centre would use. “With the IT sector one of the fastest growing consumers of electricity in the world, Facebook’s taking leadership on renewable energy could help determine whether we have a dirty ‘cloud’ or not," Harrell said in a statement.
Greenpeace called on Facebook to use its purchasing power to to advocate for shifts in the investment priorities of its US energy suppliers, Duke Energy in North Carolina, and Pacific Power in Oregon.
The announcement follows the trend for building huge data centres in colder regions near a source of renewable energy. Recently, Verne Global announced that it would be building a data centre running entirely on renewable geothermal energy in Iceland, while Google has built a data centre in Hamina, Finland, on the site of a former paper mill.