Facebook and Greenpeace have decided to bury the hatchet and become friends. It's the end of a two-year feud that led Greenpeace to openly and frequently criticize the social networking giant for using "dirty" energy to power its data centers. The two organizations today announced an agreement to collaborate on future efforts to power data centers with clean and renewable energy.
It all started in January 2010, when Facebook announced it was breaking ground on a new data center in Prineville, Ore. The area's cool climate and inexpensive energy would lower Facebook's electricity costs. But there was a hitch: the energy for that data center, delivered by PacifiCorp, would come mostly from coal.
"Facebook should be run on 100 percent renewable energy," Greenpeace said in March 2010. "Facebook should change the terms of its power purchase agreement with PacifiCorp so that it is powered with renewables before the Oregon data centre goes online."
Greenpeace's campaign continued to build anti-Facebook buzz. Half a million people joined Greenpeace's "Unfriend Coal" movement, and more than 298,000 people currently belong to the "We want Facebook to use 100% renewable energy" group (ironically on Facebook). Last April, Greenpeace also staged protests at the Facebook headquarters and released a report — "How Dirty is Your Data?" — which estimated that 53.2 percent of Facebook's electricity was generated by coal plants.
But now the two organizations are both giving their thumbs-up to clean energy. Under the agreement, Facebook says it will adopt a policy stating a preference for clean and renewable energy. It will also commit to ongoing research in energy efficiency and share related technologies through the Open Compute Project, a hacking-based initiative that Facebook launched earlier this year to develop more efficient data-center hardware.
"We will be working with Greenpeace to move everyone closer to a world powered by clean and renewable energy, and to use the Facebook platform to engage people on energy and environmental issues," Facebook announced on its Green on Facebook page.
Also as part of the agreement, Greenpeace said it will support the Open Compute Project, as well as "encourage utility providers to offer ways for customers to get their utility data."
Both organizations say they will work together to promote energy-saving ideas to Facebook users and otherwise continue the open discussion about moving to clean energy instead of building new coal plants.
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