Facebook backs major renewables projects in Ireland and the US as it closes in on 100% target

Facebook is one of the world's largest corporate purchasers of renewable energy

Collectively, the deals will deliver more than 806MW of power. Facebook met 86% of its electricity demand with renewables in 2019 and believes the new deals could secure the 100% target, set in 2018.

In Ireland, the social media giant has signed an extended power purchase agreement (PPA) with Brookfield Renewable Partners to develop the 28.8MW Lisheen III wind farm. The array is set to come online in 2022 and will be built alongside the smaller Lisheen I and Lisheen II wind farms.

Facebook will use power from Lisheen III to power its European headquarters, situated in Dublin, and its data centre in County Meath, which is currently being expanded.

“We hope that [this new wind project] will not only support our Irish operations and our goal of 100% renewable energy for all of our global operations, but will encourage all stakeholders to work together to bring additional renewables to the grid through corporate agreements from the purchase of energy,” Facebook’s EMEA energy manager Colin Spain said.

On Spain’s latter point, Facebook is a member of The Climate Group’s RE100 initiative. Beyond supporting businesses to set and deliver against 100% renewables targets, it leverages the collective influence, reach and purchasing power of businesses to drive the clean energy transition.

Facebook has also announced plans to back four new solar and wind projects this month. The arrays, based across Utah, Tennessee, Ohio and Illinois, will have a combined capacity of 800MW.

The firm has not yet published details regarding the specifics of the deals, including their duration and when the arrays will come online.

Journey so far

Currently, Facebook has renewable energy deals covering more than 5GW of generation – of which 2GW is operational and a further 1.5GW is due to come online by the end of 2020.

The company is widely regarded as one of the world’s largest corporate energy purchasers.

According to Bloomberg NEF (BNEF), Facebook was the largest corporate buyer of clean energy in the first seven months of 2018, procuring 1.1GW of renewable power between January and July.  

It then procured a further 1.1GW throughout the entirety of 2019, with the only US-based corporate procuring more being Google (2.7GW).

The firm is on track to achieve 100% renewable electricity by the end of 2020 but not 100% renewable power, due to the ongoing technology and policy-related challenges of decarbonising heating, cooling and transport.

More than 1,000 multinational companies were contacted by a group of more than 100 investors calling for relevant data on environmental performance and stewardship to be disclosed to CDP earlier this year. Facebook was among that cohort.

Sarah George

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