Apple’s North Carolina Data Center to Use 100% Renewable Energy

“By the end of 2012, we’ll meet the energy needs of our Maiden, North Carolina, data center using entirely renewable sources. To achieve this, we’re building our own facilities that will provide over 60 percent of the clean power we need. It’s another example of Apple’s commitment to designing for energy efficiency — from the ground up.” Source: Apple.com

Generating onsite renewable energy

Apple’s data center in Maiden, North Carolina, will draw about 20 megawatts of power at full capacity. We’ll be producing an unprecedented 60 percent of this power onsite. To do that, we’re building what will be the nation’s largest private solar arrays and the largest non-utility fuel cell installation operating anywhere in the country. That’s a scale of onsite renewable energy production that no other company has matched. Onsite energy generation minimizes our dependence on the grid and reduces our environmental impact. And when our solar arrays and fuel cells are operating, Apple’s Maiden data center will be the most environmentally sound data center ever built.
Solar power and fuel cells.

We’re currently building two solar array installations in and around Maiden. These sites use high-efficiency solar cells and an advanced solar tracking system. A 100-acre, 20-megawatt installation on the same site as our data center will produce 42 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of energy annually. A 100-acre site located a few miles away will produce another 42 million kWh. Together that’s 84 million kWh of clean, renewable energy supplied annually. When our bio-gas-powered 5-megawatt fuel cell installation comes online later this year, it will provide more than 40 million kWh of renewable energy annually. This means Apple will be producing enough onsite renewable energy — 124 million kWh — to power the equivalent of 10,874 homes.*

Accountability and transparency

We want to ensure that our efforts to use renewable energy are transparent and that everyone can follow our progress. That’s why Apple will register the renewable energy generated by our solar arrays and fuel cell installations with the North Carolina Renewable Energy Tracking System (NC-RETS) established by the North Carolina Utilities Commission.

Power from other renewable sources

While we’ll produce 60 percent of the power used by our Maiden data center onsite, we’ll meet the remaining 40 percent of our energy needs by directly purchasing clean, renewable energy generated by local and regional sources.

Procuring renewable energy

Directly purchasing clean local energy gives us the flexibility to meet our needs over time, helps us to ensure that our sources are reputable and responsible, and encourages local investment in renewable projects such as wind, solar, and bio-gas power in locations best suited for these resources. Adding renewable energy sources like these displaces dirtier energy sources from the grid. We’re also partnering with NC GreenPower — an independent, nonprofit organization created by the North Carolina Utilities Commission — to increase local renewable energy production throughout North Carolina. Today Apple’s largest project with NC GreenPower is helping the local landfill in Catawba County (located just three miles from the Maiden data center) to generate electricity using their waste methane gas.

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