Facebook likes solar power cogeneration

Facebook is teaming up with Cogenra Solar to put a solar cogeneration system in at its headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif.

According Cogenra, one of the company’s dual energy-production systems – which use photovoltaics to produce electricity and solar heat to make hot water – will go on the roof of Facebook’s renovated fitness center.

Whether the move is part of a concerted effort to curry favor with the green crowd or not, this marks Facebook’s second pro-renewables move in the past week.

Earlier, Facebook got a thumbs-up from Greenpeace, a frequent critic, when it confirmed it would build a giant data center near the Arctic Circle in Sweden that would rely almost wholly on renewable energy.

Like other solar-power systems, Cogenra’s starts with mirrors to focus sun energy. But it then turns that sunlight on photovoltaic panels, producing electricity, while also capturing the heat energy in liquid-chemical filled tubes to produce hot water. 

The company says its proprietary technology snares up to 80 percent of the sun’s delivered energy and produces five times the energy of traditional PV systems.

According to Cogenra, Facebook will be getting a 24-module installation with combined electric and thermal output of 60 kilowatts (kW).

This will be enough to displace more than 60 percent of the fitness center’s natural gas needs, as well as a portion of its grid-fed electricity consumption, Congenra said.

Cogenra was in the news a year ago when with much fanfare – former British Prime Minster Tony Blair was in attendance – it showed off a 272-kW solar cogeneration system at a Sonoma winery.

Pete Danko, EarthTechling