Environment

Apple to build largest end user-owned, onsite solar array in the U.S.

Apple to build largest end use...
Apple's Maiden data center already boasts a white cool-roof and is set to add the largest end user-owned, onsite solar array in the U.S.
Apple's Maiden data center already boasts a white cool-roof and is set to add the largest end user-owned, onsite solar array in the U.S.
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Apple's Maiden data center already boasts a white cool-roof and is set to add the largest end user-owned, onsite solar array in the U.S.
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Apple's Maiden data center already boasts a white cool-roof and is set to add the largest end user-owned, onsite solar array in the U.S.

Following widespread criticism of its environmental record from groups including Greenpeace, Apple has made efforts to reduce the environmental impact of its products and facilities in recent years. As part of these ongoing efforts, the company has revealed plans to build the United States' largest end user-owned, onsite solar array at its Maiden, North Carolina iDataCenter.

The news comes from a newly released report outlining the environmental impact of Apple's worldwide facilities, including its retail stores, R&D facilities, and operations and data centers. Being completed in 2011, the Maiden facility already boasted a green design and received LEED Platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council - a feat that Apple points out hasn't been achieved by any other comparably sized data center.

Further enhancing the facility's environmental credentials, Apple will build a 100-acre, 20-megawatt facility on land surrounding the data center to supply 42 million kWh of renewable energy to the facility annually.

The Maiden facility's existing energy-efficient design elements include a white cool-roof the maximize solar reflectivity and reduce the building's cooling requirements, and a chilled water storage system that allows 10,400 kWh of electricity consumption to be transferred from peak to off-peak hours each day. It's conceivable that this system could also be employed to store electricity generated by the solar array during the day for use at night.

Apple hasn't announced when the solar array will be constructed, but the report also reveals the company is building a fuel cell installation that is scheduled to go online later this year. The 5-megawatt facility will be located directly adjacent to the data center and will be 100 percent powered by biogas to provide more than 40 million kWh of round-the-clock baseload renewable energy annually. Upon completion, Apple says it will be the largest non-utility fuel cell installation in the U.S.

The report indicates the company is dedicated to becoming a greener Apple, but the environmental impact of its facilities are just a drop in the ocean compared to emissions from other sources. As much as 98 percent of the company's total greenhouse gas emissions come the production, transport, use, and recycling of its products, with the company's corporate facilities accounting for the remaining two percent.

Source: Apple Facilities Report (PDF) via 9to5Mac

12 comments
Oztechi
That\'s heart-warming to know Apple cares about the environment...but not the working environment of the people who make its products that lead to them feeling suicidal. It\'s all about public image, its easier to openly promote \'green\' activities and draw attention away from terrible working conditions of workers who are not allowed to speak to anyone about what really goes on to make products for Apple.
Pl0pie
Yeah chop down that forest!!!!! Plant solar panels to heat up the planet! Well done!
Pl0pie
OMG they are going to exchange their reflective roof to some solar panels? They already chopped down the forest, which happens to be the most effective against global warming... sigh
Michael Kamrath
Hm. And I\'m thinking all of these comments are being sent from....drumroll....
Slowburn
Put solar collectors on the roofs, put solar collectors over the parking lots, even put solar collectors over public roads, but cutting down trees to put up solar collectors in their place is just asinine.
Paul Perkins
About time that Google did the same. Their power consumption is the same as a small size city. Well done Apple.
Fretting Freddy the Ferret pressing the Fret
I like the last paragraph of this article. This public stunt of generating greener energy is indeed but a drop in the bucket and in the end doesn\'t make much of a difference. On a somewhat unrelated note, I remember in this interview with Steve Jobs recognizing the problem of energy supply in the future, but he didn\'t personally have any investments in it, leaving it to other people to solve it.
Slowburn
re; Fretting Freddy The electricity supply problem is the fools that prevent us from using nuclear power.
A'Tuin
As the vast majority of Apple\'s manufacturing, assembly, and transport; i.e. the major sources of their greenhouse gas emissions, take place outside the U.S.A. this is obviously a cynical attempt to placate the home-based green lobby. The response to questions regarding their effects elswhere in the world would no doubt be something along the lines of, \"We are not responsible for the policies of our suppliers. It is up to them to take whatever actions they deem appropriate.\" However, any significant investment in green technology on the part of said suppliers would no doubt lead to price increases, and the loss of Apple contracts.
Slowburn
re; A\'Tuin First. AGW has been proven to be a fraud. Second. If these systems can be proven to be more cost effective they will spring up elsewhere.