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Apple To Power Data Center with 100% Renewable Energy

Apple has expanded plans for solar power at its newest data center in Maiden, North Carolina.

The $1 billion facility – dubbed Project Dolphin – will be powered completely by renewable energy by the end of 2012, according to a Reuters story that detailed two separate solar installations with a combined footprint of 250 acres.

The installations will have an output of roughly 84 kWh of energy annually, and will be built with equipment made by SunPower.

"I'm not aware of any other company producing energy onsite at this scale," Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer told Reuters. "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."

Solar power won’t be the only energy source for the data center. Apple also is building the “largest non-utility fuel cell installation operating anywhere in the country,” according to a facilities report released in February.

The 5-megawatt collection of fuel cells – made by Bloom Energy – will be powered with 100 percent biogas and provide an estimated 40 million kWh of renewable energy annually.

With the scope of data centers (and their related energy consumption) on the rise globally, leading companies are taking steps to build more energy efficient facilities and source renewable power.

Apple says it is in the process of moving away from coal-fired power for all three of its data centers. In addition, the company's next data center – planned for Prineville, Oregon – will have an abundance of nearby renewable energy to draw upon, Oppenhemer said.

Bart King is a PR/marketing communications consultant and principal at Cleantech Communications. 

Bart King is the principal and founder of New Growth Communications, a network of affiliated content producers and strategists serving clients in the emerging green economy. Follow him @bart_king and on LinkedIn.

[Read more about Bart King]

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