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Facebook wins Greenpeace plaudits for Iowa datacentre

23 Apr 2013
Facebook's Open Compute server racks at its datacentre in Prineville Oregon (Photo by Alan Brandt)

Facebook has confirmed plans to build a massive new datacentre facility in the rural US, which will make extensive use of wind power.

The company said that its new datacentre will be housed in Altoona, Iowa and should go live some time next year. The facility will be Facebook's fourth server farm, adding to a list which includes facilities in North Carolina, Oregon and Sweden.

"In the coming years, as our service continues to grow and people share and connect in more ways, we need to make sure that our technical infrastructure also continues to scale," Facebook vice president of infrastructure engineering Jay Parikh said in announcing the deal.

"Our goal is not just to deliver you a fast, reliable experience on Facebook every day – we also want to help make connectivity a universal opportunity. Our data centres are essential for making that happen."

The company noted that its decision to put the datacentre in the plains of Iowa will also bring environmental benefits. The Altoona site will be able to serve large amounts of wind energy, lowering the carbon footprint for the power-hungry datacentre.

Greenpeace, which has in the past criticised companies for building their datacentres in areas which rely on coal power plants, praised Facebook's plans to utilise wind power in the Altoona facility. The group noted that the social networking giant can use its economic clout to convince local energy suppliers to move to renewable power sources.

"In Iowa, Facebook has chosen a location where it has great potential to power its newest datacentre 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," said Greenpeace senior international IT analyst Gary Cook.

"MidAmerican is still powering its grid with a mix of mostly dirty energy sources like coal and gas."

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Shaun Nichols

Shaun Nichols is the US correspondent for He has been with the company since 2006, originally joining as a news intern at the site's San Francisco offices.

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