Apple wants to be in its greenest form since its inception after the company has revealed that its biggest data center, along with other facilities, will be powered completely by renewable energy.
The announcement, which came with a detailed plan, was made by Apple on a dedicated page on its website earlier last week.
In Apple’s own words:
“By the end of 2012, we’ll meet the energy needs of our Maiden, North Carolina, data center using entirely renewable sources. To achieve this, we’re building our own facilities that will provide over 60 percent of the clean power we need.”
That Maiden, North Carolina data center is Apple’s biggest. It will be powering Apple’s iCloud and maybe other services from the consumer electronics juggernaut. Just how big is this data center? The data center is 500,000 square feet. The energy needed to run this behemoth of a data center could power more than 18,000 homes. We’ll get to that in a bit.
According to Apple, it plans to build two 20-megawatt high-tech solar farms. One will be located near Apple’s data center and one will be a few miles away from it. Covering 100 acres each, the solar array farms will each produce 42 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of energy annually. That’s 84 million kWh of power per year.
Furthermore, Apple will also build a 5-megawatt biogas-powered facility which makes 40 million kWh of renewable energy annually. Apple says all the power generated by these three facilities only fulfills 60 percent of the power required to run the data center. In Apple’s estimate, this 60 percent can already power 10,874 homes thus the 18,000+ homes figure.
The remaining 40 percent power needed for the data center will be bought by Apple. However, it will all be sourced from renewable energy too as the company will only buy from power generators using renewable energy.
According to Apple, its data center also has the following design elements making it one of the most environmentally-friendly data center in the world:
- A chilled water storage system to improve chiller efficiency by transferring 10,400 kWh of electricity consumption from peak to off-peak hours each day
- Use of “free” outside air cooling through a waterside economizer operation during night and cool-weather hours, which, along with water storage, allows the chillers to be turned off more than 75 percent of the time
- Extreme precision in managing cooling distribution for cold air containment pods with variable-speed fans controlled to exactly match airflow-to-server requirements from moment to moment
- Power distributed at higher voltages, which increases efficiency by reducing power loss
- White cool-roof design to provide maximum solar reflectivity
- High-efficiency LED lighting combined with motion sensors
- Real-time power monitoring and analytics during operations
- Construction processes that utilized 14 percent recycled materials, diverted 93 percent of construction waste from landfills, and sourced 41 percent of purchased materials within 500 miles of the site
Because of all these and Apple’s design of its Maiden data center, it was revealed by the company that the data enter has been awarded the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Platinum certification, a feat Apple says has been achieved by its data center among all data centers of this magnitude.
Furthermore, Apple also revealed its other green moves. It said its Austin, Texas operations center has been powered 100 percent by renewable energy for almost a decade now. It said that its Sacramento, California, and Cork, Ireland operations centers along with its Munich, Germany facilities are also completely powered by renewable energy. Furthermore, its Prineville, Oregon data center will also “be every bit as environmentally responsible as our Maiden data center,” Apple said. It’s Newark, California data center will from the near future be powered by renewable energy too.
With all these initiatives, it leaves us wondering if Apple will soon trademark “Green Apple”.
Source: Apple and the Environment page // Images from Apple