Facebook is planning to create renewable electricity and hot water with a solar cogeneration system at its new headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., the company announced on Thursday.
The social networking giant purchased and renovated the 57-acre site in Menlo Park from Oracle, with the full 2,000-employee transition from its Palo Alto headquarters to be completed in December. Once installed, the solar system from Cogenra Solar will feed hot water and electricity to the site’s 10,163 square-foot fitness center – powering gym equipment, lighting and showers.
The system, which will be fitted onto the roof of the fitness center, will displace a portion of the gym’s grid-fed electricity and more than 60 percent of its natural gas needs, Cogenra said. The array will also provide hot water for showers, company cafes and other needs across the corporate campus.
With a capacity of 60 kilowatts of combined electric and thermal output, the 24-module installation is fairly small. But its ability to produce both electricity and hot water made it the most cost-effective choice, said Cogenra CEO Gilad Almogy.
Facebook is the first company to experiment with solar cogeneration – which integrates photovoltaic (PV) and solar thermal technologies into one modular package, according to Cogenra – a Mountain View, Calif. startup that specializes in the technology.
These dual-power systems are able to generate five times the energy, three times the greenhouse gas reduction and twice the financial savings compared to traditional PV systems of the same size, Almogy said.
“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,” Almogy said. “With Cogenra’s unique combination, the hot water and electricity components compliment one another, further optimizing energy output and returns.”
System installation and integration into the site’s facilities will be completed by the end of the year, Cogenra said. While neither company will say how much the array will cost Facebook, Cogenra assured the social media powerhouse that it will recoup its investment in less than five years, reports The San Francisco Chronicle.