Greenpeace TV Ad Pushes Facebook On Coal Power
A Greenpeace advert aims to shame Facebook into giving up coal-fired electricity in its data centres
Greenpeace has brought TV time in California to to run an advert asking Facebook to “unfriend” coal in time for Earth Day on 22 April.
The 30 second Greenpeace advert addresses Facebook directly, and is the lastest step in a campaign against Facebook’s policy of building data centres where the majority of the electricity supply comes from coal-fired power stations.
Coal is “the number one contributor to climate change,” the advert says, before urging Facebook to “unfriend coal and help le the energy revolution.”
Media war escalates
The advert is an escalation of Greenpeace’s media war, which has previous been conducted iwth Youtube videos challenging Facebook. Greenpeace hopse to extract a green commitment from Facebook before Earth Day (22 April) to stop using coal-fired electricity and instead use clean, safe, renewable energy. Eventually it wants Facebook to develop a plan to mitigate its climate footprint and become coal-free by 2021.
To this end, Greenpeace has documented five steps that Facebook should take in order to go green.
The first step is for Facebook to “come clean” and disclose its energy and carbon footprint. this could perhaps use emerging measures of “carbon intensity” such as the new carbon usage effectiveness (CUE) measure proposed by the Green Grid.
The second step is for Facebook to implement an ‘infrastructure siting policy’ so that its data centres are not built in areas just because of the plentiful supply reliable and low-cost energy and telecommunications infrastructure, plus local tax incentives.
Instead Facebook should follow examples such as Google’s use of wind power and Yahoo’s use of hydro-electric power from Niagara Falls, prioritising renewable sources of electricity for its data centres, Greenpeace said.
The third step Greenpeace suggests is that Facebook should increase the supply of clean energy in three ways, namely clean energy procurement, clean energy investment, and renewable/clean energy self-generation.
The fourth step is that Facebook should engage in clean energy advocacy. Greenpeace believes, “Facebook and other large IT companies, such as Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft, have the power to make real changes to the grid mix at a much faster rate than the present.”
The fifth and final step that Greenpeace is asking for is that Facebook should educate and engage the 600 million plus Facebook members on clean energy, by creating awareness and discussion of the subject.
Greenpeace has been trying to persuade Facebook to drop coal for a while now, using channels such as a Facebook page on the subject, set up after it singled out out Facebook in September 2010 because of its decision to site its first wholly-owned data centre in Oregon, using electricity from PacificCorp, an energy company which makes two thirds of its power using coal.
“With Facebook’s two new massive new data centres due to be switched on soon, each of which uses enough power to light up tens of thousands of homes, there’s never been a better time for Facebook to unfriend coal and choose the clean, safe, renewable energy future,” said Greenpeace.
Facebook for its part has already defended its new data centres, saying the Oregon facility is one of the most energy-efficient in the world, with a Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) rating of 1.15. The company said it was concentrating on using power effectively, rather than getting involved in how it is produced. It also said it chose the Oregon site because the “temperate” climate would allow it to operate without mechanical chillers – normally one of the biggest detractors from efficiency in a data centre.
Question Of Scale
Meanwhile Greenpeace had to defend itself last year after data centre experts pointed out that the electricity needs of Greenpeace’s own web servers, are mostly met through coal and nuclear powered electricity.
Greenpeace however pointed out that it has only 2,000 employees, and much smaller traffic than that generated by Facebook’s 600 million users.
“It’s a question of scale,” Greenpeace spokesman Daniel Kessler said previously.
Also Greenpeace’s main website is hosted in a Global Switch data centre in Amsterdam, and Global Switch has bought renewable energy certificates (RECs) to offset the carbon output of its data centre facility.