If they weren’t trying to cover something up, they would not connect their ‘wind farms’ to the grid, but simply connect them to their corporate sites. Unfortunately, we know better, that there is no such thing as an industry that can survive on 100% wind power. Why? The wind blows….and then doesn’t…. There is no such thing as a massive battery pack that balances this grid nightmare. (Aren’t batteries TOXIC to the environment?) Instead, companies must use energy from traditional fuel sources, like nuclear, gas and coal- a majority of the time that power is needed. Additionally, because the wind is on/off/on again, the traditional energy producers generate MORE greenhouse emissions, as they are required to ramp up/down to accommodate the fickle wind. Power by renewable sources is a smokescreen….
Last month, the social-media giant Facebook announced plans to build a new data center near Odense, Denmark. The expansion of server capacity was needed, the company said, to support “richer content” such as live-streaming and virtual reality.
The Facebook executive who made a public announcement of the decision (live-streamed, of course), noted that the new facility would have the “smallest footprint possible” and be “powered by 100 percent clean and renewable energy.” Well, not exactly.
Recent reports by Rasmus Svaeborg for the Danish newspaper Information tell a different story. What may resemble, at least in the view from Silicon Valley, an exercise in green corporate responsibility will actually mean a big increase in Denmark’s contribution to greenhouse warming.
Data centers consume prodigious quantities of electricity to power servers and keep them cooled down. The Danish government estimates that server farms now planned or under construction—primarily Facebook’s and another being built by Apple in the town of Viborg —will add 4 million megawatt-hours, or about 13 percent, to the nation’s current annual electricity consumption. Between now and 2040, server farms will account for a whopping one-third of the expected increase in Denmark’s electricity demand.
Facebook and Apple are eager for their new data centers to share the bright green aura that surrounds Denmark’s strong wind-energy commitment. But only about half of the country’s electricity is supplied by renewable sources, so there’s no spare green energy available to cover Silicon Valley’s needs. The increase in national power consumption spurred by the new facilities will have to be generated from nonrenewable sources.
So the two corporations won’t have “the smallest footprint possible” on Danish soil; they’ll actually be substantially boosting the country’s carbon output….
Given their vast cash reserves and self-proclaimed commitments to green energy, the two corporations could have built their own wind farms to power their new server farms, rather than piggybacking on Denmark’s renewable-energy efforts. But even that would not have solved the deeper problem: wind and solar development, whoever is doing it, is a perpetual game of catch-up. Across the globe, whether in countries like Denmark who have vigorous clean-energy development or in slacker countries like the United States, capitalism’s uncanny ability to crank out new electricity-dependent goods and services is easily capable of outstripping the buildup of renewable energy capacity.
Growth in technologies designed to curb air pollution (such as electric cars), to soften the impact of greenhouse warming (such as air conditioning), to purvey entertainment that can provide comfort in a world on the brink (such as streaming video), and to provide myriad other services threatens to scuttle our best efforts to wean society from fossil-fueled electricity….