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Apple plans solar panel farm for data center in Reno

New facility near $1 billion data center in northern Nevada will be capable of producing 18 to 20 megawatts of power.

Apple plans to build a solar farm to power a new data center in Reno, Nev., in keeping with the company's goal of having its data centers run by renewable energy.

The company has signed a deal with Nevada utility NV Energy to build a solar farm on 167 acres in northern Nevada that will be capable of producing 18 to 20 megawatts of power, Apple announced Monday. The new solar farm will provide the energy to operate a $1 billion data center for Apple's cloud computing services that will be located east of Sparks.

When completed, the new solar panel facility will generate about 43.5 million kilowatt hours of clean energy a year for Sierra Pacific Power's electric grid, which provides power to Apple's data center, Apple said in a statement

Because data centers consume great amounts of electricity, Apple has committed to running its data centers entirely off renewable energy. An Apple computing center in Maiden, N.C., which is run entirely off renewable energy, is powered by the nation's largest end-user-owned solar array.

"All of Apple's data centers use 100 percent renewable energy, and we are on track to meet that goal in our new Reno data center using the latest in high-efficiency concentrating solar panels," Apple said in a statement announcing the project. "This project will not only supply renewable energy for our data center but also provide clean energy to the local power grid, through a first-of-its-kind partnership with NV Energy."

The company has shown a good deal of interest in renewable energy, for both its facilities and gadgets. In addition to its Maiden data center, Apple's sites in Austin, Texas, Elk Grove, Calif., and Cork, Ireland, are powered by 100 percent renewable energy resources.

Although Apple has not yet released any solar-powered gadgets, the company was granted a patent in 2011 for a system that uses a solar panel for charging different portable devices, including a notebook, tablet, phone, or other handheld gadget.