Social media giant Facebook in its first direct investment in Renewable energy is constructing a massive solar park in West Texas.
Facebook’s solar farm in West Texas is believed to be one of the largest solar projects in the US and also the media giant’s first direct investment in Renewables’. For Facebook, this forms the next step towards the goal of powering its global operations with 100% renewable electricity by the end of next year.
The Prospero Solar project is situated just north of Odessa, Texas, and is about five and a half times larger than Central Park in New York. The project, when finished, will be spread in around 7 square miles or 18 square kilometer area. The project will have a capacity of 379 megawatts, which is enough to power around 72,000 homes based on the US average, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.
Just as Facebook is in the process of finishing the construction of a data center near Albuquerque, Boston based renewable energy developer Longroad Energy also earlier announced that it was partnering with Facebook on the $416 million project.
For Facebook, Prospero project is different from the earlier RE projects. Instead of a long-term agreement to buy power from the plant, FB made a direct investment. Also, Shell Energy North America and Facebook will share the power generated by the solar farm.
This makes Facebook a tax equity investor in the solar farm, which means that it can take advantage of US federal tax credits generated by the project. It’s a type of investment more often provided by banks when solar developers don’t have enough taxable income to fully benefit from the tax credit.
“Facebook is excited to be one of the first companies to use a direct investment to meet our renewable energy goals,” company energy strategy manager Peter Freed said in a statement. FB will also make money as the solar farm sells energy to Shell Energy North America, which has signed a long-term purchase agreement.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced in April that Facebook was building six new solar projects to support its data centers, which are linked to the outside world through fiber-optic cables.
“Our data centers are already some of the most energy efficient in the world, and last year we set a goal for all our data centers and offices to use 100% renewable energy by 2020,” Zuckerberg wrote on his personal Facebook page. “These new solar projects will help us reach that goal.”