updated 03:28 pm EDT, Thu May 17, 2012
Facility to have two solar arrays, fuel cell farm
Apple's large-scale datacenter in Maiden, North Carolina will run entirely on renewable energy by the end of the year, the company has announced. Currently Apple is in the middle of buying equipment from Bloom Energy and SunPower Corp. to build not one but two solar arrays in the Maiden area; previously, only one was known to be in development. Once the equipment is in place, it should generate 84 million kWh of energy per year. Apple's fuel cell farm should be finished later in 2012.
CFO Peter Oppenheimer tells Reuters that the solar arrays will cover 250 acres, making them some of the largest in the industry. He has also revealed that the company eventually intends to go coal-free at all three of its datacenters. "I'm not aware of any other company producing energy onsite at this scale," Oppenheimer claims. "The plan we are releasing today includes two solar farms and together they will be twice as big as we previously announced, thanks to the purchase of some land very near to the data center in Maiden, which will help us meet this goal.
"Our next facility will be in Prineville, Oregon," he adds. "This is still in the planning stages and we have already identified plenty of renewable sources nearby.
"We haven't finalized our plans for on-site generation, but any power we need to run our center in Prineville that we get from the grid will be 100 percent renewable and locally generated sources."
In recent times Apple has come under fire from the environmental activist group Greenpeace, which previously said the North Carolina facility was too dependent on energy from coal-fired power plants. It has in fact staged protests at two major Apple headquarters, in Cupertino, California and Cork, Ireland.