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Facebook Installing Solar Cogeneration System

Facebook is planning to create both electricity and hot water with a solar energy system at its new Menlo Park, Calif., headquarters.

With the capacity to generate 10 kw of electricity and 50 kw of thermal energy, the system from Cogenra Solar is relatively small. But its dual function makes it more cost-effective than a PV-only solar system, according to Cogenra CEO Gilad Almogy, quoted in the San Francisco Chronicle.

The 24-module system will sit on the roof of Facebook’s 10,000 square foot fitness center, powering exercise machines and heating water for showers. The center is one of nine buildings on the 57-acre campus, which once belonged to Sun Microsystems. Facebook employees will complete a transition to the new campus next month.

The two companies wouldn’t disclose how much Facebook is paying for the system, but Almogy said the social network will recover its investment in under five years.

Facebook director of global facilities John Tenanes said the company could later expand the system, perhaps using the hot water in on-campus cafes. He described the Cogenra system as Facebook’s initial investment in solar power.

Cogenra’s past installations include a 272 kW ground-mounted array at a Sonoma winery, another ground-mounted system at agricultural system manufacturer GH Inc. (pictured), and a rooftop array at the University of Arizona.

AltaTerra analyst Eric Paul said the commercial use of solar water heating “makes perfect sense,” even for small-scale uses such as kitchen areas. California has a particularly strong rebate program for companies installing this technology, he said.

In other solar power news, Ikea has announced plans to open three more rooftop solar installations, at stores in Portland, Ore., New Haven, Conn., and Draper, Utah. The company said patents are still pending but it expects to begin installation of the nearly 10,000 panels next year, finishing in the spring. It said the panels should generate 3,156 MWh of electricity a year.

These three locations would bring the number of Ikea locations with solar power to 23, accounting for more than half the company’s U.S. stores. Ikea will own and operate each of the systems.

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2 thoughts on “Facebook Installing Solar Cogeneration System

  1. Thank you FB for going hybrid tech. This only applicable in soutsouth. ,however time will provide solar technology end its cloudy. Cogenra has produced economical unit good enough for small places.

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