Microsoft and Google recently announced clean energy plans for their respective data centers -- and now Facebook will build what some call the "most technologically advanced" data center in Altoona, Iowa.
The city approved a 1.4 million-square-foot data center sitting on a 200-acre parcel of land estimated by experts to cost Facebook about $1.5 billion, though it's scheduled for completion in two $500 million phases, according to the Des Moines Register. Wind power will partially power the data centers. The project has been in the works for about a year.
Around August 2012, Facebook filed papers for a third auxiliary building that would support two data centers in Prineville, Ore. Imagine the tons of data collected by Facebook about users and ad targeting across its network.
Overall, the project sounds promising, but Greenpeace International organizers seem a bit skeptical. "In Iowa, Facebook has chosen a location where it has great potential to power its newest data center with the wind energy that is booming there, but to do so it must show a willingness to work with Iowa's major utility, MidAmerican Energy, to provide more clean energy to the grid," Greenpeace International senior IT analyst Gary Cook wrote in a prepared statement.
Evidently, MidAmerican, the major utility energy company that sells electricity in Iowa, continues to power its grid with a mix of mostly dirty energy sources like coal and gas, according to Cook. "We expect Facebook to meet the ambition it has expressed in its renewable energy goals by following the example Google has set in Oklahoma and North Carolina and demanding that MidAmerican provide significant new renewable energy to Iowa's grid to meet the expected large electricity demand of Facebook’s data center," he said.
Google recently announced it would collaborate with Duke Energy, the largest utility in the country, to create a new renewable electricity program in North Carolina. If approved, large electricity customers like Google will have the choice to power their growth with renewable energy. The company also said it would expand its Lenoir, N.C. data center. The local electricity provider, Duke Energy, said it would develop a new program for large companies like Google who want to buy renewable power for their operations.