Facebook has installed a large array of solar panels at its new data center in Prineville, Oregon, which will supplement the local utility in providing electricity for the 300,000 square foot facility, which was officially opened at a ceremony yesterday.

For more than a year, the environmental group Greenpeace International has been bashing Facebook over its use of electricity generated by “dirty coal” to support its huge new Oregon data center  – a campaign that continued Friday as Facebook opened the new facility.

100 kW Solar Array

The large solar array in Prineville makes Facebook one of only a handful of data centers in the world to install on-site solar power generation (see Solar-Powered Data Centers for more examples).But it also illustrates the complexity of data center power sourcing, and the difficulty in reducing the issue to a “coal or no coal” litmus test. For most facilities, the Prineville solar array would represent a major commitment to renewable energy. The array can generate about 100 kilowatts of energy.

The problem? In the data center world, 100 kilowatts isn’t much power. Facebook hasn’t said precisely how much power it is using in Prineville, but by the time the facility is complete it will be measured in dozens of megawatts of electricity. It typically takes about 7 acres of solar panels to generate 1 megawatt of power.

Will Support Office Space
The solar power generated by the Prineville solar array will be used primarily to support the office areas and some mechanical rooms that are less power-intensive, but not the server rooms. The installation of the solar array was not mentioned in the company’s press release announcing the opening of the Prineville facility.

source: datacenterknowledge