Facebook’s expanding data center in Newton County, Ga., is fueling continued need for more renewable energy. McCarthy Building Cos.’ December construction start for the 107-MW Snipesville II facility in Jeff Davis County marks the contractor’s second solar project to get underway in Georgia since October, when it initiated work on the 80-MW Lancaster Solar project in Calhoun County.

Working via separate EPC contracts, the contractor stated it is delivering both solar facilities for project owner-builder Silicon Ranch Corp., which describes itself as “the U.S. solar platform for Shell.” Both plants are scheduled to be operational in late 2021. Nashville-based Silicon Ranch will own and operate the arrays for the long term.

Both solar plants will provide power to Walton Electric Membership Corp. (EMC), which has agreed to supply 100% renewable energy for Facebook’s Newton County facility. That power agreement is in line with Facebook’s announcement in August 2018 of its goal to power its global operations with 100% renewable energy by the end of 2020.

To date, Walton EMC and Silicon Ranch have executed six contracts totaling 435 MW of renewable energy generation for Facebook’s data center in Georgia.

Both of the new solar facilities will use single-axis tracking technology, with the Snipesville and Lancaster plants featuring 350,000 and 260,000 solar modules, respectively. Silicon Ranch also stated it will keep each site’s property in agricultural production.

“Although many industries are suffering during these challenging economic conditions, utility-scale solar construction jobs are on the uptick around the country, and Georgia is no exception,” Scott Canada, senior vice president of McCarthy’s Renewable Energy and Storage group, said in a press statement. McCarthy stated it plans to hire more than 500 craft workers to construct the two projects.

Earlier this year, Facebook announced a $1-billion expansion of its Newton County data center, adding 1.5 million sq ft and three new buildings to the recently built facility, which began construction in 2018.