Facebook has announced its plans to build a 970,000 sq. feet, $750 million (approx. £565 million) data centre in Huntsville, Alabama.

Builders will break ground this year, with the intention of having the site up and running by 2020. The social media giant explained in a blog post that building a data centre in Huntsville made sense for a number of reasons.

‘As a growing tech hub, Huntsville seemed like a natural fit for Facebook,’ the post reads. ‘The site, located in Northern Huntsville, is shovel-ready and allows us to break ground this year. It also provides reliable access to renewable energy, strong local infrastructure, a great set of community partners, and very importantly, an outstanding pool of talent.’

Facebook’s data centre approach

Facebook is putting a big emphasis on its contribution to the local economy. It says it is ‘committed’ to helping the local community and says that for every $1 million in operating expenses at its data centres, there are 13 jobs supported in the economy, and for the same value of capital expenditure, that number raises to 14 jobs.

Given the $750 million cost of this site, that’s a fairly significant number. According to Facebook, the data centre won’t just help local people – it’ll help the world too. It’s working with local authorities on renewable energy plans, including solar power projects. The intention for Facebook is to not let any fossil fuels near the data centre.

Facebook takes an unusual approach to data centres, through its Open Compute Project, which releases designs of servers so as to hasten development and innovation, in the same mould as open source computing. Kao Data recently announced that it built the first European data centre to meet OCP design principles.

Microsoft has taken a slightly different approach to data centres of late, too, with its underwater project off the coast of Orkney.