We're creating more data than ever before – YouTube receives 300 hours' worth of video uploads every minute – and all of those 1s and 0s have to be stored somewhere. With this in mind Apple's €1.7 billion (around US$1.9 billion) European data centers, which will be powered entirely from renewable energy sources, show a commitment to the planet's future.
The racks of servers in the new eco-friendly buildings will help serve up content from iCloud and iTunes for Apple's users in Europe. Each facility is going to cover an area of 166,000 sq m (1,787,000 sq ft) and is scheduled to come online in 2017. One is slated for Athenry in Ireland, while the other is set to be located in Viborg, Denmark.
An Apple representative told us that the company is still working out the mix of renewable energy sources that will power these buildings, though they are going to be "run entirely on clean, renewable energy sources from day one." Wind power is likely to feature heavily and Apple has promised that the two new centers will have the "lowest environmental impact yet" for a facility run by the company.
On the Denmark site, excess heat from all of those whirring hard drives is going to be used to power homes in the local community, while the center in Ireland will be part of a land recovery project featuring an outdoor education space and a walking trail for the public to make use of. Both data centers will meet or exceed LEED standards according to Apple, and will utilize a unique cooling system based on natural air flow.
"We believe that innovation is about leaving the world better than we found it, and that the time for tackling climate change is now," says Lisa Jackson, Apple's vice president of Environmental Initiatives. "We're excited to spur green industry growth in Ireland and Denmark and develop energy systems that take advantage of their strong wind resources. Our commitment to environmental responsibility is good for the planet, good for our business and good for the European economy."
Apple, like many other major tech companies, has been working renewable energy into its data centers for some time. A huge solar array powers Apple's data center in North Carolina in the United States, while both Google and Facebook have been keen to trumpet the low environmental impact of their own facilities. Apple is also currently busy constructing a new flagship building to act as its headquarters: designed by Foster + Partners in the shape of one complete loop. This "spaceship" will also rely 100 percent on renewable energy when it opens next year.
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