Facebook Ties up With CleanMax for 1st Renewable Energy Project in India

Facebook has partnered with Mumbai-based clean energy firm CleanMax for a 32 MW wind power project to be built in southern Karnataka. Around 50% of the project’s energy generation capacity has already been commissioned and is producing electricity. While CleanMax will handle the ownership and operation of the project, Facebook will purchase electricity off the grid through environmental attribute certificates (EACs) or carbon credits.

“This partnership with CleanMax will enable new solar and wind power to be generated in the near future, contributing to the decarbonisation of the Indian electrical grid. Facebook is committed to upholding the highest standards in environmental sustainability across all aspects of our operations,” said Urvi Parekh, Head of Renewable Energy at the company.

While this is the first such alliance in South Asia for the social media giant, Facebook has similarly collaborated with clean energy companies around the world to supply power to its operations. In October last year, it announced a virtual power purchase agreement (VPPA) with Singapore-based solar energy provider Sunseap Group. Terrenus Energy and Sembcorp Industries (SCIL.SI) are also among Facebook’s partners. As part of these VPPAs, it purchases renewable energy at a predetermined price from the partnering firms.

The company also announced that its global operations are now supported 100% by renewable energy and that it has reached its net-zero emissions goal. The tech-giant has cut down its greenhouse gas emissions by 94%, much greater than its 75% reduction target set in 2018. Last year, the International Energy Agency estimated that the data centres used by tech companies, including Facebook, consume around 1% of the world’s total energy. To support its many national and international data centres with clean energy, Facebook now finances 63 new renewable projects located on the same electrical grids as the data centres. Eoghan Griffin, sustainability manager for EMEA at Facebook explained, “Say for example we are going to build a data centre. We know roughly how much energy it takes to run it, so we will work in partnership with an energy provider very early on in that process, giving them a sense of the market. That way we are able to commit to it up front and they are able to fund the infrastructure, whether that’s solar panels or wind turbines.”

In a joint statement, Facebook and CleanMax revealed that they are collaborating on many more wind and solar projects as well, which will supply renewable power into India’s electrical grid in those states where Facebook’s facilities are also present. The electricity from these plants will be used to run the company’s first Asian data centre.

Among other big tech firms which have made similar promises of achieving net-zero emissions for their worldwide operations are the likes of Apple, Google and Microsoft. Apple announced last month that all its manufacturing partners have jumped on the company’s bandwagon to reach carbon neutrality by 2030.

CleanMax co-founder and Chief Commercial Officer Andrew Hines said, “We have always strived to develop innovative solutions to help our clients achieve their 100 percent renewable ambitions. Given the constraints in sourcing power to many facilities, we are working with forward-thinking corporations like Facebook to find creative solutions to these problems.”

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Soumya Duggal

Soumya is a master's degree holder in English, with a passion for writing. It's an interest she has directed towards environmental writing recently, with a special emphasis on the progress being made in renewable energy.

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