updated 11:20 pm EDT, Tue October 25, 2011
Apple datacenter to go green
Apple's North Carolina datacenter may soon get some of its power from green sources, a search through local permits has uncovered. The proposal found by the Charlotte Observer would have some of the 171 acres of unused area across the street from the Maiden-based plant, at 6028 Startown Road, used to set up a solar power farm. Nicknamed "Project Dolphin Solar Farm A Expanded," most details are unknown other than that Apple had to file an erosion control permit (PDF) to promise it wouldn't pollute the nearby area.
Project Dolphin was the name for the in-development datacenter.
Apple has made a point of having eco-friendly locations, such as those in Austin and Sacramento in the US and Cork in Ireland. Until now, however, the datacenter was relying entirely on power from Duke Energy in the area, for whom only a small amount of its power comes from solar. Installing its own power has some self-interest: by establishing its own power source, it can keep the datacenter partly powered in the event of a blackout.
The Maiden location is considered vital for Apple as it handles iTunes and iCloud features for much of North America, if not the world. It may also provide the backend processing of Siri questions, which use Nuance's cloud voice services to run.
Several of Apple's peers have gone to extra lengths to use solar or other forms of renewable energy. AT&T, Google, and others are using Bloom Energy Servers to make the most use of their power sources through reserves. Facebook went so far as to design its Open Computing Project servers, which are about 38 percent more power efficient than usual and make it easier to power a datacenter with green sources.
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