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Apple Receives Regulatory Approval for 20-Megawatt Solar Farm at North Carolina Data Center

The North Carolina Utilities Commission today officially approved (PDF) Apple's proposal to construct a 20-megawatt solar farm across the street from its data center in Maiden, North Carolina.
The Public Staff presented this matter to the Commission at its Regular Staff Conference on May 14, 2012. The Public Staff recommended that the Commission approve the application and issue a certificate of public convenience and necessity for construction of a 20 MW solar photovoltaic electric generating facility to be located at 6028 Startown Road, Maiden, North Carolina.

After careful consideration, the Commission finds good cause to approve the application and issue the attached certificate of public convenience and necessity for the proposed 20 MW solar photovoltaic electric generating facility.
Previous filings with federal regulators have indicated that Apple plans to have the solar farm installed by November 1, with operation to begin by December 21.


Apple signaled its intentions to build a data center at the site last October, moving to clear and grade the land as it sought approval for the project. The company publicly unveiled its plans back in February, noting that the facility will be the largest user-owned solar array in the United States. A separate 5-megawatt fuel cell facility is also under development at the site and is proceeding through a parallel regulatory approval process.

The official proposal was filed with the North Carolina Utilities Commission on February 15, and was subjected to staff review of the plans, a public notice and comment period, and input from the State Clearinghouse on environmental and other issues. With that information in hand, the Commission offered its official approval this past Monday and finalized the certificate issuance today.

Top Rated Comments

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32 months ago
And yet, Greenpeace will find something to complain about with this.
Rating: 11 Votes
32 months ago

with operation to begin by December 21.


It's a conspiracy!
Rating: 7 Votes
32 months ago
Great news that Apple are paving the way for responsible electrical generation!

Does anyone else find it amusing that a Solar farm is to begin operations on December 21st ... Winter Solstice - the shortest day of the year?
Rating: 6 Votes
32 months ago

1 Megawatt = 106 watts


Er, I assume you meant to write 10^6 watts. :)
Rating: 6 Votes
32 months ago
Needs to be 1.21 Giggawatts.
Rating: 5 Votes
32 months ago
New marketing slogan: Apple where clouds are powered by the sun.
Rating: 5 Votes
32 months ago

So true. I am all for protecting the environment and all that but really--couldn't Greenpeace have find a better target than Apple? I mean regardless of how much energy the data center may use, it still has to be way down on the list of environmental polluters. But it is good to hear they will have a solar farm there to help with the power load. :)

So sad... When I was growing up, they were protesting factories discharging untreated toxic waste into rivers and nuclear bomb tests that were releasing radioactivity into the atmosphere. Now, they are reduced to sensationalist hit pieces attacking whomever would get them more page views, while there are still tons of factories in the third world spewing real toxic waste into the water and air.
Rating: 4 Votes
32 months ago
should be 1.21 gigawatts, but I guess were not there yet.
Rating: 4 Votes
32 months ago

Really, 20 MegaWatt, is likely peek capacity at time of manufacture.

Solar panels can loose up to 10% of their rated value per year. They also need to be cleaned and will require maintenance.

Baloney.
Every photovoltaic panel sold today is guaranteed to deliver >90% of rated power for 20 or 25 years (depending on manufacturer), and 20 MW is a lot of power, which will only increase for the first 6 mos. of operation (as it's targeted to come online at the winter solstice)

Rating: 3 Votes
32 months ago

Of course. All that solar energy used to enter the environment, providing warmth & light to whatever lived on/in/under those many acres. Now with "solar strip mining" everything there will die from lack of energy, just so you can "Match" your songs among various luxury devices. As green energy sources are being rolled out into major production, we're finding they do have negative effects on the local environment when implemented on any meaningful scale.


Uhm, no.

Here's a calculation. (7,926 mi/2)2 x 3.14159 is the area of the disk of incident light on the earth.

Which is about 49 Million square miles. Apple's stated solar installation is on a parcel of 170 acre or about 1/4 square mile. Even then, you would still need to have the surface area perpendicular to the sun of the whole installation of panels to really do an accurate calculation. I assumed that 100 percent of the panels are perpendicular to the sun and that there is 170 acre of coverage just to be conservative on the calculation.

.25 / 49 million which approximates 1 part in 200 million, which is pretty darn insignificant.

And that doesn't take into account inefficiencies of the solar panel.

Next you will want to tell me about how a Hummer is more energy efficient than a Prious, which by the way it isn't.
Rating: 3 Votes

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