Apple’s North Carolina Data Center Adding Solar Power

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Apple’s giant data center in Maiden, North Carolina, is getting a little greener thanks to the company’s plan to add a solar power system to the facility. The solar farm will reduce Apple’s reliance on the local power grid, although details are slim so there isn’t any indication yet as to how big the system will be once completed.

Apple's North Carolina data centerApple’s North Carolina data center

Apple has been granted permits to change the slope on parts of a 171 acre lot it owns next to the server facility, although it doesn’t include any details about the size of the solar farm, how much electricity it is expected to produce, and whether or not Apple plans to completely self-power the data center. That information will, however, eventually turn up when Apple applies for a building permit for the solar farm.

Apple began construction on its North Carolina data center in 2009, and was immediately shrouded in mystery because the company didn’t say exactly what it had in store for the facility.

The company still hasn’t confirmed what the data center is used for, although it seems likely that it is handling at least part of the workload for Apple’s Siri voice command system for the iPhone 4S, along with other iCloud-related services.

[Thanks to the Charlotte Observer for the heads up.]

Comments

Lee Dronick

Why didn’t they design green into it from the get go?

ibuck

Why don’t they also install solar panels on the roof and over the parking lot?

Lee Dronick

Why don?t they also install solar panels on the roof and over the parking lot?

They probably need more electricity than that they could get from that amount of square footage. They may even put panels above the parking lot as well as the lot across the street.

I wonder what they will do during periods of darkness, use the grid, store the solar generated electricity somehow.

ibuck

Lee, if they have excess power during the day, they’ll sell it to their utility company at the higher industrial day rates. At night they’ll buy power at the reduced industrial rates.

I don’t know if servers and this type of facility draw more power when use is more intensive (during the daylight hours for the US) than when use is less intensive. Of course, when other countries start using iCloud (or whatever the data center is used for), server activity may be more constant throughout the day and night.

Lee Dronick

Lee, if they have excess power during the day, they?ll sell it to their utility company at the higher industrial day rates. At night they?ll buy power at the reduced industrial rates.

Oh yeah. I don’t know about the regulations in North Carolina, but here in California the power company has to buy your solar power. Also I am sure that the engineers checked to see if there was enough power and transmission capacity on the grid.

Currently I am reading a book about the Industrial Revolution. Interesting characters and ideas back then. If those guys were alive today would be using excess solar to wind springs that would in turn drive generators or pump water up a hill to drive a waterwheel.

One guy did that to power a mill; Used a boiler and steam powered pump to take water up to a high tank and then drain that over a waterwheel. The action was smoother than a piston running the machines, eventually someone “invented” the flywheel.

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