New Apple data center will sport biggest commercial solar, fuel-cell installations

Details are still sketchy, but company plans to run the Maiden, N.C. site with a 'high percentage renewable energy mix.'
Written by Heather Clancy, Contributor

(Updating with anticipated size of solar, fuel-cell installations)

You've gotta love the sneaky way that Apple sneaks information out into the public sometimes, even the most positive sort of news.

Green technology types will be interested to hear that the company's environment information site apparently has been updated to reflect the high-tech company's plan to step up its commitment to renewable energy.

The investments will center on Apple's new data center in Maiden, N.C., and they will come in the form of what the company describes as 'the largest end user-owned solar array" and the "largest non-utility fuel cell installation in the United States."

Apparently, Apple intends to use a 100-acre parcel of land next to the facility for the solar farm, which will be an estimated 20 megawatts in capacity, supplying 42 million kilowatt-hours of solar power annually, according to one report. The fuel-cell installation is estimated at 5 megawatts and the cells will be fueled by biogas. (Apple already uses smaller-capacity technology at its headquarters.)

Incidentally, the Maiden site already has earned a Platinum designation for the 500,000-square-foot facility under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program run by the U.S. Green Building Council.

Both of these projects are notable because the fact is many high-tech companies have focused primarily on energy efficiency measures across their data centers. Actual investments in renewable energy technologies on site have been few and far between although Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo have all invested in solar photovoltaic at one data center or another and in one form or another.

Could Apple be setting a trend like it does in so many other theaters of influence? In any event, it probably needs to talk to Greenpeace, which recently left it off its Cool IT list of high-tech clean energy leaders.

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