Greenpeace Ramps Up Pressure on Facebook’s Coal Use

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Greenpeace has hit a new record with its Facebook “unfriend coal” campaign. No, not a record for how much it can harass the social network (well, kind of), but a Guinness World Record for how many comments a single Facebook post has received in a 24-hour period. The Facebook “unfriend coal” page now has over 69,000 comments, and the previous Guinness Record was 50,000 comments.

The Guinness group will verify the record in a week or so. In the meantime, Greenpeace has a van with a large screen on it parked outside of Facebook’s HQ, showing Facebook’s employees and visitors all of the comments on the Facebook unfriend coal page (see photos).

Greenpeace has been ramping up its campaign to get Facebook to pledge to cut coal out of its data center equation by Earth Day on April 22. A day before Earth Day, on April 21 at our Green:Net 2011 event (register here), Greenpeace will release a report that details how cloud-focused companies from Facebook to Google (s GOOG) to Microsoft (s MSFT) to Apple are using clean energy to power their clouds.

Greenpeace started its campaign to convince Facebook to move away from using coal to power its data center early last year. At that time, Facebook had just announced it would build a data center in Oregon, in the footprint of utility Pacific Power that largely derives its electricity from coal. Facebook later announced it would double the size of the new data center before it was even built, and Greenpeace responded by saying Facebook had “irresponsibly chosen to double-down its bet on dirty energy.”

Facebook has made a more recent effort to turn its data center in Oregon into an industry-leading, energy-efficient data center design, and has opened its innovations to the public (and competitors) in an unprecedented manner. Facebook’s data center in Oregon will have a power usage effectiveness (PUE) ratio of 1.07, which compares to an EPA-defined industry best practice of 1.5, and 1.5 in Facebook’s leased facilities. A PUE of 1 is excellent, while a PUE of 2 is not so good.

While few Internet companies have plans to power their energy-hungry data centers with 100-percent-clean power, some companies are being a lot more proactive than others. Take Google (s GOOG): Google has been investing in and buying power from clean power sources, and, as I wrote in this GigaOM Pro article (subscription required), I think Google’s clean power ambitions are directed squarely at its data centers. Greenpeace says while Facebook is dependent on coal for 55 percent of its power, its peers Yahoo (s yhoo) and Google have much lower dependencies on coal with 12.7 percent and 34 percent respectively.

Hear more about clean power and data centers from Google’s Green Energy Czar Bill Weihl and Yahoo’s Director, Climate and Energy Strategy, Christina Page at Green:Net 2011.

Images courtesy of Greenpeace.

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I hope they switch to nuclear, that’ll piss Greenpeace off.

Facebook open sourcing their energy efficient data center design is clearly going to offset more carbon than switching to green energy.

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