Facebook Invests in Cogeneration for New Menlo Park Campus

Facebook‘s Menlo Park Campus is all set to have a cogeneration system (aka combined heat and power system or CHP) installed soon with the help of Cogenra Solar. Cogenra is a provider of distributed solar cogeneration systems and renewable energy service solutions. By harnessing the heat naturally created by the system and putting it to good use, Cogenra’s solution enables clean, renewable energy below utility rates while reducing natural gas and grid-fed electricity consumption. The unit at Facebook will produce renewable hot water and electricity and will be integrated into the roof of the renovated fitness center.

This is Facebook’s first foray into solar energy at its corporate campus and it is said to have a quick payback as well as a dual energy production benefits. The 57-acre campus was purchased from Oracle and 2,000 employees from Facebook’s current Palo Alto headquarters will move here by December. The solar cogeneration system will supply both electricity and hot water directly to the site’s 10,163 square foot fitness center, powering gym equipment, lighting and showers with clean, renewable energy.

The 24-module installation totals 60kW of combined electric and thermal output, which will displace more than 60 percent of the fitness center’s natural gas needs. In addition to this, a portion of its grid-fed electricity consumption will also be taken care of.  The system is said to be installed by the end of this year.

Cogenra’s system offers returns in less than five years because the hybrid system offers a higher energy offset as well as enhanced economics. By integrating both photovoltaic and thermal technologies, the system generates  five times the energy, three times the greenhouse gas reduction and twice the financial savings of traditional photovoltaic systems.

According to Dr. Gilad Almogy, CEO of Cogenra: “While often overlooked compared to traditional electricity demands, corporate campuses and other community-based facilities, all require large amounts of hot water on a daily basis. With Cogenra’s unique combination, the hot water and electricity components complement one another, further optimizing energy output and returns. Facebook has recognized the inherent advantages in Cogenra’s hybrid solution, and we are honored to partner with them on this premier installation, as well as future projects down the road.”

Cogeneration technology is the latest when it comes to energy generation. It has many advantages over conventional solar technologies and it has wide applications in various avenues that need to be explored. In addition to the Facebook project, Cogenra is also developing projects throughout California and Arizona. They have also announced a large solar cogeneration system at the student dormitory at the University of Arizona to assist with their laundry usage.

Akhila is the Founding Director of GreenDen Consultancy which is dedicated to offering business analysis, reporting and marketing solutions powered by sustainability and social responsibility. Based in the US, Europe, and India, the GreenDen's consultants share the best practices and innovation from around the globe to achieve real results. She has previously written about CSR and ethical consumption for Justmeans and hopes to put a fresh spin on things for this column. As an IEMA certified CSR practitioner, she hopes to highlight a new way of doing business. She believes that consumers have the immense power to change 'business as usual' through their choices. She is a Graduate in Molecular Biology from the University of Glasgow, UK and in Environmental Management and Law. In her free-time she is a voracious reader and enjoys photography, yoga, travelling and the great outdoors. She can be contacted via Twitter @aksvi and also http://www.thegreenden.net

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