The largest social media company of the world Facebook has announced that it has achieved net zero emissions which now pits the company to achieve its wider target of net zero emissions by 20203 for its entire supply chain.
Over the past three years, it has managed to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 94 per cent, said that social network and added that 100 per cent of its operations were now powered by renewable energy.
“We set these goals in 2018 and today we are one of the largest corporate buyers of renewable energy,” Facebook said. “We have contracts in place for more than six gigawatts of wind and solar energy across 18 states and five countries. All 63 projects are new and located on the same electrical grids as the data centres they support.”
A more limited goal of cutting emissions by 75 per cent by 2020 was announced by the company in 2018. Now that the company has easily surpassed that target, it is being assumed that the company will have the capacity to achieve its wider target by 2030 which includes emissions not just by the own datacentres of Facebook but also the emissions caused by its suppliers which will include the hardware developers who build its servers and the outsourcing companies that handle its moderation.
Facebook is not powering its entire business with renewables even though it is purchasing enough renewable energy for power its entire business. Instead the company has the option to buy renewable energy certificates so that it is able to match fossil-generated power that it could be forced to purchase in the eventuality of the electricity grids not having enough renewable electricity to meet the power demands of the company. This is a strategy that is also followed by many others pursuing a net zero goal.
“The biggest lever is to design and build some of the world’s most energy-efficient datacentres,” said Facebook’s chief technology officer, Mike Schroepfer. “But we’ve also become one of the world’s largest buyers of renewable energy.”
A 180MW solar project in Utah which came online in mid-April was cited as an example of the positive impact of the company by Schroepfer which is known to be a key member of Mark Zuckerberg’s inner circle.
Investments made by the company in less traditional areas as well were included in its net zero pledge, he said. Less water, and less electricity, than traditional air conditioning units, are being used by the datacentres of the company to cool them which means that about 10 per cent of the energy used in the datacentre comprises of non-computing tasks such as cooling.
There were mixed reactions from climate activists about Facebook’s announcement.
“This is the bare minimum a company can do in the middle of a climate emergency,” wrote Luke Kingma, a climate activist and brand strategist. “The biggest source of emissions from social platforms is not their data centres. It’s their advertising and content policies.”
(Adapted from TheGuardian.com)