Apple greens up its image with solar, biogas

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) wants you to know it cares about the environment. It's telling us that its new NC data center has loads of solar panels, plus fuel cells powered by biogas. In IT Blogwatch, bloggers plan a pomaceous planet.

By Richi Jennings: Your humble blogwatcher curated these bloggy bits for your entertainment. Not to mention: The Sentimental Query...

    Sarah Mitroff reports:

Apple wants you to see its good side...that recycles, constructs energy efficient buildings, and uses solar energy.


Apple’s Maiden, North Carolina, data center...was built to be highly energy-efficient with a “white-cool” roof, the use of outside air to cool the facility...and power monitoring. ... [C]oming later this year...a group of solar panels will help power the plant...[which] will generate 42 million kWh each year.   

    Steven Musil adds:

Although brief, this is the first information the company has publicly revealed about the project. ... Apple has reportedly spent $1 billion to build a 500,000-square-foot behemoth of a data center...part of the back-end behind iCloud. ... Apple's servers also power Siri.


The company says it has eliminated 30,000 [tonnes] of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions thanks to some facilities...running completely on renewable energy.   

Rich Miller has more:

Although Apple’s solar plans are making headlines, the report also sheds light on many aspects of Apple’s data center. ... None of these technologies are new, but they represent important best practices.


Apple disclosed that the facility has earned...the highest level attainable under the LEED...rating system for energy efficient buildings.   

  But Katie Fehrenbacher has good news and bad news:

Apple calls the 20 MW solar project “the nation’s largest end user–owned, onsite solar array.” ... Apple also says it plans to build a massive fuel cell farm at its data center that will use biogas...captured from decomposing biomass...[which] will be 5 MW when it goes online later in 2012...“the largest non-utility fuel cell installation operating anywhere in the country.”


[But] North Carolina has one of the dirtiest electrical grids in the country. ... It also has some of the cheapest power, which is likely why Apple decided to build its data center there.   

Meanwhile, Alfred Poor puts it in perspective:

[S]olar energy has seen rapid growth in the past quarter, and the momentum appears to carry into the new year. ... Part of the growth at the end of 2011 was driven by incentive programs that were expiring...creat[ing] nearly 1 GW of new...capacity.


Market prices for photovoltaics have declined rapidly, which has helped to fuel growth. ... There are more than 25 GW non-residential and utility photovoltaic projects in the pipeline...the Hoover Dam is rated at about 2 GW.


[But] we still have a long way to go before solar provides an appreciable proportion of our...demand.   

    And Finally...
The Sentimental Query
Don't miss out on IT Blogwatch:

Richi Jennings, your humble blogwatcher

Richi Jennings is an independent analyst/consultant, specializing in blogging, email, and security. He's the creator and main author of Computerworld's IT Blogwatch, for which he has won ASBPE and Neal awards. He also writes The Long View for IDG Enterprise. A cross-functional IT geek since 1985, you can read Richi's full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.


Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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