Advanced Computing in the Age of AI | Saturday, January 29, 2022

Facebook to Build 970,000 Square Foot, 100% Energy Renewable Data Center 

Source: Facebook

Pop Quiz:  What type of building is essential to the daily operations of a global business, is nearly a million square feet in size, but has only a few dozen cars in its employee parking lot? A data center of course. In this case, we’re talking about Facebook’s plan to build the mother of all data centers, a 970,000-square-foot monster in Eagle Mountain, UT, a $750,000 investment by the social media giant.

Facebook announced the new server farm in a blog post on, yes, Facebook, touting its commitment to renewable energy and its investment in the local infrastructure (Eagle Mountain is located about 40 miles south of Salt Lake City).

“The Eagle Mountain Data Center will be among the most advanced, energy and water-efficient facilities in the world,” the company said in a blog post. “By using outside air to cool our servers, we use 75 percent less water than a typical data center. We also reuse water (multiple times) when possible. In Eagle Mountain, we have partnered with the new local high school, so our treated water can be used to irrigate the school grounds.”

While the company has been embroiled in an international controversy regarding the personal data of tens of millions of Facebook users, the company also reported record revenues of $11.8 billion for Q1 of this year. Facebook claims to have almost 1.5 billion users per day and more than 2 billion per month.

The data center project has been wreathed in some degree of secrecy – two weeks ago, the Utah state government announced that negotiations, much of it focused on taxes, were underway to build the data center, but the company involved (though widely suspected to be Facebook) was not disclosed, according to The Deseret (Utah) News. The News reported that “under terms ratified by five different taxing entities, Facebook will qualify for some $150 million in tax breaks over 20 years for Phase 1 of the project.”

“We worked with Rocky Mountain Power to establish a renewable energy tariff, Schedule 34, that will allow us to power our data center with 100 percent renewable energy and encourages others in the community to use renewable energy,” Facebook said. “We are now partnering with them to identify potential solar projects in various locations in rural Utah. These projects will represent hundreds of millions of dollars of investment across the state."

Facebook's investment includes more than $100 million in infrastructure, including a new electrical substation that will bring 1000 megawatts of power delivery capacity. The Facebook data center is expected to employ 30-50 people full time, with potential for more contract workers. Construction will begin this month and the data center is expected to come online in 2020.

"After a thorough search, we selected Eagle Mountain for a number of reasons—it provides good access to renewable energy, a strong talent pool, and a great set of partners," said Rachel Peterson, Facebook VP of data center strategy. "We are excited to make Utah our new home and look forward to a long and successful partnership with the state, the city of Eagle Mountain, and our new community."

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