Apple's main data center to go fully renewable this year

Apple is doubling up on solar energy at its Maiden, N.C., data center, and plans to make it run entirely off renewable energy by the end of 2012.

Josh Lowensohn
Josh Lowensohn Former Senior Writer
Josh Lowensohn joined CNET in 2006 and now covers Apple. Before that, Josh wrote about everything from new Web start-ups, to remote-controlled robots that watch your house. Prior to joining CNET, Josh covered breaking video game news, as well as reviewing game software. His current console favorite is the Xbox 360.
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Apple's data center in Maiden, N.C.
Apple's data center in Maiden, N.C. Apple

Apple today said it plans to make its Maiden, N.C., data center run entirely off renewable energy by the end of the year.

The company said it's building two solar array installations in the area, which when combined will bring in 84 million kilowatt-hours of power annually. Apple is also at work on its bio-gas fuel cell installation, set to be completed later this year.

All told, Apple says it will produce 60 percent of the power it requires to run the data center on site, procuring the other 40 percent from "local and regional sources" that are renewable.

Facilities like the one in Maiden power Apple's growing cloud services effort. Last June the company introduced iCloud, its storage and sync service, which relies on the data centers to store user data and information. The data centers also play a role in powering Siri, the voice assistant feature for the iPhone 4S.

Apple posted information about its plans in a new section of its environmental Web site today. In an interview with Reuters, Apple Chief Financial Officer Peter Oppenheimer noted that the two solar farms would be twice as large as the company had originally let on. A proposal that surfaced earlier today noted that the farm across the street from the data center was given regulatory approval by the North Carolina Utilities Commission.

Apple's updated data center layout
Apple's updated data center layout. Apple

The new information comes on the heels of a demonstration against Apple by Greenpeace. Earlier this week, the environmental activist group set up a portable building at Apple's headquarters in Cupertino, Calif., as well as projecting messages onto the company's glass entryway. Both were the latest part of the group's Clean Our Cloud campaign, which pressures tech companies like Apple, Microsoft, and Amazon to use less dirty energy to power their data centers.

The Maiden facility will be the latest used by the company to run entirely off renewable energy, Apple said. The company's operations centers in Austin, Texas; Sacramento, Calif.; and Cork, Ireland, as well as a facility in Munich, Germany, already meet that metric. Apple says its upcoming data center in Prineville, Ore., will also run entirely off renewable energy.