In a recent blog post, Amazon Web Services VP and distinguished engineer James Hamilton praised Facebook’s decision to work with a utility in Iowa on a new data center that is powered solely by a nearby wind farm.

Hamilton thinks that Facebook’s model is setting a good example because it doesn’t need the data center operator to build its own clean power but rather leaves the power development in the capable hands of the utility. He also thinks it a good idea that the data center be located in an area where wind power is more economical.

Facebook Data Center

So how does this stack up against other companies’ clean power facilities? Well, take for example Apple’s facilities in Maiden, North Carolina. Although a very impressive display, the facility has consumed a huge amount of land, with 171 acres being cleared of all trees in order to provide green power; ironic wouldn’t you say! And despite the fact that solar power is a good source for major data centers, it is less practical for the majority of smaller facilities, especially if they are located in a densley populated urban area.

Another popular “green” approach is the use of fuel cells to power data centers but the challenge here is that not all are powered by biogas and instead rely on non-renewable energy, leading them to receive criticism over a lack of efficiency and cost effectiveness.

Hamilton gave four reasons why he feels that Facebook have the right solution:

  1. No clear cutting was required to prepare the land for generation and the land remains multi-use
  2.  It’s not fossil fuel powered
  3. The facility will be run by a major power generation operator rather than as a sideline by the datacenter operator
  4. Far more clean power is being produced than will be actually used by the datacenter so they are actually adding more clean power to the grid than they are consuming by a fairly significant margin.

He finished by saying: “Hats off to Facebook for doing it clean data center energy right.”

[Image via data center knowledge]