Facebook will soon join Google in its support of solar energy by installing a large solar array on the roof of its Menlo Park, CA headquarters.
The Facebook system will take advantage of new solar technology for both electricity, heat and hot water generation. The system will provide hot water for the company’s fitness center showers as well as replacing 60 percent of the building’s natural gas demand for heat with solar energy.
The hybrid solar technology for the system is pioneered by California start-up company Cogenra and will use mirrors combined with solar cells to generate electricity and heat. It also incorporates thermal piping within the solar cells to absorb excess heat from the process of electricity production; the heat is then transferred to hot water holding tanks, which are aided by a back-up boiler system.
Congenra reports that their “system can turn 75 percent of the solar energy into useful electricity and heat,” much higher than many systems available previously on the market. According to reports, Facebook can anticipate a 5-year payback system for the solar system installation.
Facebook and Google aren’t the only tech companies depending on solar–reports say that Apple is looking to solar to provide power for its new iCloud platform via an installation at the company’s Maiden, NC, data center.