updated 11:05 pm EDT, Sun April 1, 2012
Apple fuel cell plans outlined
Apple's upcoming fuel cell system for its Maiden, North Carolina datacenter should be ready just before the end of the year, according to new details. A filing mid-week at the North Carolina Utilities Commission has shown that the first fuel cell system will be ready in June, with all six up and running by November 30. Each of the systems, made by Bloom Energy, takes methane from animal byproducts and landfills, and combined should produce between 24 to 200 kilowatts across four individual fuel cells.
The power choice is now known to be unusually expensive in a gesture that's likely both goodwill and symbolic. Although Apple could have gone for other clean energy methods that would get a 30 percent tax credit, fuel cells are currently exempt. Apple's fuel cell combo is unofficially estimated to cost $30 million and would would be a public demonstration that it wasn't simply trying to save money.
Some of the cost may be offset if Apple generates a power surplus that it rolls back into local power company Duke Energy.
Combined with a major solar power farm, which could put out about 20MW of power, the fuel cells could lead to one of the most eco-friendly datacenters in the US, even after factoring in a second building in development. Apple has been criticized by Greenpeace for running other facilities on "dirty" power and would challenge companies like Facebook that have made similar claims to green energy. [via News & Record and Wired]