Apple is taking steps to power its primary US data centre using only renewable power by the end of the year.
The company has announced that it is buying equipment from SunPower Corp and Bloom Energy in order to build two solar installations within the Maiden area in North Carolina, which is close to its main data centre.
Once installed, the solar farm will provide 84 million kWh of energy every year. The stations will use high-efficiency solar cells and a solar tracking system.
Later this year, Apple is also planning to construct a third bio-gas fuel-cell plant.
The two solar farms will spread across 100 hectares (250 acres), one of the largest in the industry, Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer told Reuters. The Maiden station aims to be coal-free by the end of 2012.
“I’m not aware of any other company producing energy onsite at this scale,” Oppenheimer said. “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 centre in Maiden, which will help us meet this goal.”
Apple’s green approach follows mounting concerns from environmental communities regarding large technology companies’ use of power consumption in their computer data centres.
Greenpeace activists recently infiltrated Apple’s Cupertino campus to draw attention to the issue.
“Apple’s executives have thus far ignored the hundreds of thousands of people asking them to use their influence for good by building a cloud powered by renewable energy,” said spokesman Phil Radford at the time. “As Apple’s customers, we love our iPhones and iPads, but we don’t want to use an iCloud fuelled by the smog of dirty coal pollution.”
Yesterday Apple’s Oppenheimer said the company’s next facility will be in Prineville, Oregon.
“This is still in the planning stages and we have already identified plenty of renewable sources nearby,” he said. ”We haven’t finalised our plans for on-site generation, but any power we need to run our centre in Prineville that we get from the grid will be 100 percent renewable and locally generated sources.”.