So, err, what is it that Facebook is expected to do?

Social networking website Facebook is coming under unprecedented pressure from its users to switch to renewable energy. In one of the web\’s fastest-growing environmental campaigns, Greenpeace international says at least 500,000 people have now protested at the organisation\’s intention to run its giant new data centre mainly on electricity produced by burning coal power.

Facebook will not say how much electricity it uses to stream video, store information and connect its 500m users but industry estimates suggest that at their present rate of growth all the data centres and telecommunication networks in the world will consume about 1,963bn kilowatt hours of electricity by 2020. That is more than triple their current consumption and more electricity than is used by France, Germany, Canada and Brazil combined.

Facebook announced in February that it planned to build what is expected to be the world\’s largest centralised data storage centres in Portland, Oregon. Although it will include some of the world\’s most energy-efficient computers, the sheer scale of the Facebook operation will almost certainly use more electricity than many developing countries.

Just wondering, but what are they expected to do?

Go build enough renewables to power their operation? To build as much generating capacity as a developing country has?

Do you know how much capital that would require? How many billions upon billions of $?

And, of course, as is still sadly true, renewables are hugely more expensive than coal fired power off the grid: if they weren\’t, we wouldn\’t actually have the general problem we do have, would we?

Now I know that Facebook is (currently) free at the point of use. But are those who say that they should be using electricity up to four times more expensive than coal fired willing to put their money where their mouth is? Or is it just painless posturing?

6 thoughts on “So, err, what is it that Facebook is expected to do?”

  1. . That is more than triple their current consumption and more electricity than is used by France, Germany, Canada and Brazil combined.

    This sounds like bollocks to me.

    Tim adds: Yeah, I had to reread that a few times. I think they mean all computers, the entire internet.

  2. Of course it’s just painless posturing! Only about 0.01% of the Green movement are die hard, live in the mud and eat sticks fanatics.

    The rest would scream like scalded cats at the suggestion THEY should have to bear this cost…

  3. yes, bollocks. Clearly flagged by the phrase “at their present rate of growth”, which always says “lie following next”. Since they’ve gone from half a billion to a billion users in a year (or whatever it is) the article is probably suggesting a world population of 50 billion by 2020 or something (or possilby ten active facebook accounts per nigerian slum dweller).

    people don’t think.

    what should facebook do if it becomes such a power monster? like an aluminum smelter, it should go where the power is cheap (usually, happily, also meaning green), like, um, Iceland. But the coffee’s not as good as Portland.

    Tim adds: Well, yes, sorta, except that a significant amount of the US aluminium industry is located in Oregon and Washington State because you’ve got the rivers that you can put dams on to make cheap electricity for the aluminium industry…..

  4. “That is more than triple their current consumption”.

    I find this hard to believe. Processors will get considerably faster, software will be optimised (this always happens) and I doubt there will be much data centre storage on magnetic drives by 2020.

  5. Probably, the outraged 500,000 users claimed by Greenpeace is like all their “statistics.” Lies, and damned lies, are their are their stock in trade. They must bilk $700,000 out of idiots every day to keep their organization going. What do you bet they will drop this issue once Facebook makes a big donation to guess who, Greenpeace! Fools and their money have always been parted but never before by such consumate hypocrites as the lying do-gooders of today.

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