Affordable Solar, an Albuquerque-based solar-farm developer, will build three solar farms that will supply energy to the future Facebook data center in New Mexico. The projects will cost $45 million total, the office of New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez announced this week.
Facebook builds and operates some of the world’s largest data centers. Like many other companies with infrastructure of comparable scale, the social networking giant has committed to powering its data centers with 100 percent renewable energy, and the solar projects will bring it closer to that goal.
It’s notable that the projects are in the same state as the previously announced Facebook data center site. Investment in renewable energy generation on the same section of the utility grid as the data center is a more effective way of ensuring the data center is carbon-neutral than the common practice of investing in renewable energy generation far away from the point of consumption and applying renewable energy credits remotely.
The Facebook data center in New Mexico, whose first phase will span about 500,000 square feet, is expected to come online next year, and the first solar farm is slated for completion by January 1, with the remaining two following closely behind, according to a statement from the governor’s office.
The three solar farms will generate only a portion of the load for the future facility, which will also use wind energy, according to the announcement.