Facebook’s New Solar Power Project

Facebook’s new Menlo Park facility in California is about to get a little greener, courtesy of solar energy.
The social media giant will have a solar cogeneration array installed on the roof of the campus fitness center. The 24-module installation, to be installed by Cogenra, will generate 60kW of combined electric and thermal output; offsetting 60% of the fitness center’s natural gas needs and an unspecified amount of its electricity requirements.

Solar cogeneration harnesses the power of the sun by generating electricity and hot water from a combined solar photovoltaic and thermal module. 

Traditional solar panel systems convert approximately 15-17 percent of the sun’s energy into electricity, with the remained wasted; mainly in the form of heat. Solar cogeneration utilises this waste heat for water heating purposes. Cogenra says its cogeneration technology captures up to 75 percent of the sun’s delivered energy.

Cogenra claims its cogeneration systems are able to generate five times the energy, three times the greenhouse gas reduction and twice the financial savings compared to traditional solar panel systems. While this may sound very attractive to home owners, it appears Cogenra’s solutions are targeted towards commercial, industrial and institutional customers as the systems seem too large for the average residential rooftop.
Facebook has been taking other tentative steps this year towards powering its facilities with renewable energy, including a 100kw solar panel array installation at its 28,000 square meter data center in Prineville, Oregon . Facebook will be monitoring the solar farm’s performance, with view to perhaps installing arrays at its other data centers.
Unlike the other online behemoth, Google, Facebook’s sustainability initiatives can be difficult to locate. The company came under attack from Greenpeace last year through its “Facebook: Unfriend Coal” campaign; an effort to pressure Facebook into sourcing clean energy for its operations and developing a plan to make Facebook coal free by 2021.