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Facebook backs new Tipperary wind farm for its energy needs

Facebook will help develop a new wind farm in Co Tipperary to power its expanding data centre campus in Clonee, Co Meath, and its European headquarters in Dublin.

The project represents a new phase of Facebook’s 10-year power supply deal struck in 2016 with Brookfield Renewable Partners, the Canadian-based global fund that bought the wind energy division of Bord Gáis back in 2014.

Brookfield’s wind turbines at Lisheen, Co Tipperary, already generate much of the power demands for Facebook’s data centres at Clonee. But just as the physical size and energy needs of that facility keep growing, so does Facebook’s investment in wind energy. Its power requirements will grow further as Facebook shifts some of its 4,000-strong workforce from its Docklands offices to its sprawling 2018 acquisition, the former AIB headquarters in Ballsbridge.

As part of their development plans for Lisheen III, due to be completed in 2022, the new farm will have a generation capacity of 28.8 megawatts which is sufficient for the annual needs of 20,000 homes.

Lisheen III will be constructed beside Brookfield’s less powerful existing farms: the 18-turbine Lisheen I, which started operations in 2007, and the 12-turbine Lisheen II.

Other tech giants based here are sponsoring their own wind farms to generate electricity for the national grid that can be offset against their own consumption, particularly by data centres. Amazon already has partnered with a Donegal wind farm and plans to do the same at a second farm under development in Cork.

These arrangements are known as corporate power purchase agreements (CPPAs). They enable companies to build or help fund off-site renewable energy generation, including solar power fields and wind farms.

“We appreciate this strong collaboration with Brookfield Renewable and we are excited to be part of bringing this new wind project to the grid,” said Colin Spain, Facebook’s energy manager for EMEA. “We hope it will not only support our operations in Ireland and our goal of 100pc renewable energy for all of our global operations, but will encourage all stakeholders to work together to bring additional renewables to the grid via corporate power purchase agreements.”

Facebook also announced it is supporting new solar and wind projects in the US states of Illinois, Ohio, Tennessee and Utah that, together with its expansion in Ireland, would deliver 806 megawatts of power. The firm already has global supply deals in place for more than 2 gigawatts of power and is aiming to secure another 1.5 gigawatts by the end of the year.

Ciarán O’Brien, Brookfield’s chief commercial officer for Ireland and the UK, said Facebook was “demonstrating the role that companies can have in adding renewable capacity to the grid and meeting carbon reduction goals”.

Toronto-based Brookfield Renewables is listed on the New York Stock Exchange and majority-owned by an asset management fund headquartered in Bermuda.

Brookfield Renewables has a market value approaching $8bn (€6.8bn) and a portfolio of nearly 5,300 power generation facilities worldwide, chiefly in hydroelectric plants.