Facebook’s Papillion Data Center to Run On 100% Renewable Energy from Enel Green Power

Published on Thursday, 13 June 2019

“We are committed to supporting our data centers with new renewable energy projects that bring many benefits to the State. Enel's project does just that, resulting in 320 MWs of new wind energy on the Nebraska grid and additional investment and jobs to Eastern Nebraska.”

– Bobby Hollis, Director of Global Energy and Site Selection at Facebook

Having a dedicated offtaker, or purchaser of renewable energy, allows us to continue to expand wind energy projects, and the Papillion Data Center is a perfect example of how companies can partner on renewable energy to reach their business goals.

Purchasing Power Virtually

In a recent survey, we found that only 1 in 5 Americans have a strong understanding of how renewable energy produces power. In all fairness, the process can be a bit tricky to understand, especially when the renewable power is not being generated next door.

Facebook’s Papillion Data Center is a few counties away from our Rattlesnake Creek Wind farm in Dixon County. So how will this agreement work, what impact will it have, and how can other large companies make commitments to renewable power without a wind farm at their facility?

While the renewable electricity from Rattlesnake Creek may not go directly into the Papillion Data Center, it does directly feed into the same electricity grid that the data center pulls from.  Over the course of a year, Rattlesnake Creek will produce more electricity than the Papillion Data Center uses. This means that Facebook’s commitment to a sustainable data center is making the overall energy supply cleaner and greener.

Here’s how it’ll work: 

  • Clean, renewable energy is produced by Rattlesnake Creek Wind Farm
  • Facebook agrees to purchase this clean power through contracts called Virtual Power Purchase Agreements (vPPA) — in this case, over 300 MW worth of wind energy.
  • The clean energy is then fed into the connected energy grid (think about all those wires and poles you see) that delivers power from producers to consumers.
  • The overall energy grid is made up of electrons mixed together from a variety of sources. The addition of this wind power makes the grid greener.
  • This in turn avoids CO2 emissions — in the case of Rattlesnake Creek Wind Farm, 940,000 tons per year. That’s like taking more than 200,000 vehicles off the road. 

 

You can visit Rattlesnake Creek with this 360° experience in order to learn how wind is transformed into renewable energy that supports the Facebook Papillion Data Center. 

 

 

Positively Impacting Both the Environment and Nebraska’s Economy

Facebook’s new data center is also a major boon for Nebraska’s economy. Because they focus on building data centers in the same state or on the same electrical grid as their renewable energy sources, they contribute toward the creation of new jobs and millions of property tax dollars. Facebook works closely with state and local governments to bring more renewable energy onto the grid. They partnered with the Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) to develop a “green tariff,” Rate 261-M, which is a rate design that enables corporations to cover 100 percent of their electricity usage with renewable energy, and enabled Facebook to secure power from the Rattlesnake Creek Wind Farm.

This “green tariff” is also available to other companies beyond Facebook, which in turn may make it easier for other large companies who value sustainability to consider operating or expanding operations in Nebraska.