Apple Strikes Deal for Third Solar Farm at North Carolina Data Center

Apple has struck a deal for a new 100-acre solar farm near its Maiden, North Carolina data center, the third such farm providing energy for the facility, reports the Hickory Daily Record. According to the report, Apple will be making an initial investment of $55 million in the solar farm, which will generate 17.5 megawatts of power.
Apple plans to have a grading permit submitted for the property by the end of the year, pending acquisition of the land and other terms of the development agreement. If everything else goes according to plan, the farm is projected to be completed within five years of the commencement date.
Apple's North Carolina data center is the first in a series of significant data center projects the company has undertaken in recent years, with Apple also working on centers in Oregon and Nevada. Under its promise to run its data centers on 100% renewable energy, Apple has been investing heavily in energy sources such as solar and biogas while purchasing other types of renewable energy from suppliers.

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The North Carolina data center was joined by a 20-megawatt solar farm across the street by late 2012, and Apple has also been developing a second 20-megawatt solar farm a few miles away. The data center is also powered by a biogas fuel cell facility that began as a 4.8-megawatt project but was later expanded to 10 megawatts.

Apple's exact plans for this third solar farm are unclear, as the five-year planning horizon suggests it may be part of a longer-term vision for the site. The current data center primarily consists of a massive 500,000 square-foot building, but plans presented by Apple during the project's development depicted a second building of equal size ultimately being constructed next door. Apple's timeline for any expansion of that magnitude for the data center itself remain unknown.

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12 weeks ago
What id love to see (and i have no idea why we don't do this), is for large amounts of the desert here in Australia (ie, the middle section!) was full of Solar panels. You could power the entire country.

Note that Crescent Dunes Solar Farm took only 2 years to build and produces 110 MegaWatts!
Rating: 6 Votes
12 weeks ago

... You know... It boggles my mind why they waste so much money on this stuff and don't invest in liquid fluoride thorium reactor technology instead. They certainly have the resources to take on bureaucracy and to make this a public issue... I mean, if they really care about green energy...


Unfortunately, the general public go a bit loopy when they hear nuclear being suggested. It's quite disappointing.
Rating: 4 Votes
12 weeks ago
That photo reminds me of the solar farms in Transcendence...
Rating: 2 Votes
12 weeks ago
... You know... It boggles my mind why they waste so much money on this stuff and don't invest in liquid fluoride thorium reactor technology instead. They certainly have the resources to take on bureaucracy and to make this a public issue... I mean, if they really care about green energy...
Rating: 2 Votes
12 weeks ago
Why the focus on solar energy? How about wind turbines?
Current onshore wind turbines can reach 7.5-8 MW per turbine. Why not combine these two elements? They should have enough space on these solar farms to mix both technologies.
Rating: 2 Votes
12 weeks ago

You don't have to be in Iceland, or any place with geothermal activity. Of course being closer to these places makes it more efficient, but like I said it can be placed virtually anywhere.


Right. But in most places, you’d have to maintain infastructure a kilometer or more underground, and like I said, that’s not cost effective. I didn’t say it wasn’t possible.
Rating: 1 Votes
12 weeks ago

Right. But in most places, you’d have to maintain infastructure a kilometer or more underground, and like I said, that’s not cost effective. I didn’t say it wasn’t possible.

No you don't. You only need to dig or drill down a few feet.

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Good point. Do you have any numbers at hand?

Here is a few misconceptions details about it which basically back up what I said. http://energyblog.nationalgeographic.com/2013/09/17/10-myths-about-geothermal-heating-and-cooling/
A simple google search will find tons more information if your interested.

For homes and small commercial premises it really should be the renewable energy source used over solar power. If a company like Apple are dedicated enough to build large scale solar farms as they are doing then there is no reason why they shouldn't build geothermal farms. They would get energy 24/7.

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Solar works when it light out, doesn't have to be sunny.

My point was that the sun needs to be out and during the night it isn't creating any energy, a major problem for winter nights, especially as that is when most energy is consumed as well.
Rating: 1 Votes
12 weeks ago

No you don't. You only need to dig or drill down a few feet.


Baha, um, what?

Just to get a perspective on what you were talking about, I went ahead and read that nat-geo article you linked to. And that’s a good use of ground heat. Controlling the temperature of a home using that system might be cost effective over the life of the system. Meaning you might break even, but you would have a much smaller carbon footprint. So sure. Totally worth it. I might look at putting a system like that in my house, actually.

But I think you’d find that the temperature differential at that depth wouldn’t be sufficient for climate control in a large data center with tens of thousands of heat-producing servers. What you need there is air conditioning, and what you need for that is electricity. And what you need to produce electricity is an enormous geothermal gradient to the tune of 150-200ºC.

And even if you live in an area where a large geothermal gradient is easy to obtain, you only really beat out the efficiency of solar power when it comes to heating. That’s why Iceland likes it so much. Cheap, extremely efficient heat. But if you need to use that energy to power, say, 10,000 servers, you need it in the form of electricity. Making that conversion reduces the efficiency of the energy harnessing process, and last I checked, it reduced it below the conversion efficiency of a good solar cell.

I can look into some actual numbers if you like, but I’m reasonably confident that geothermal energy would be a terrible way to power a data center in North Carolina.

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Windpower and solarpower don't work and are not cost effective yet. The main problem is that they are not a stead source of power. Solar sucks at night. Solar/wind power also creates problems for power distribution because of it's peaks and falls in power out puts. Until they find a cost effective way to store excess energy your not going to beat Coal, Natural Gas or Nuclear. Were you can control you power source. Nuclear being the best option. Just think how much less CO2 we would have made if we didn't stop building Nuclear plants in the 70s.

Offshore wind farms suck. Ask the Netherlands how that has worked out. Offshore shoots the maintenance costs though the roof. Windpower already has a maintenance cost problem when it's on land and easy to get too.


I agree that nuclear is probably the best option we have now. Breeder reactors would even extend our current supply of fuel and drastically reduce the amount of waste the process produces. But it’s only a stopgap. Our long-term (as in completely clean never-ending power) solutions basically boil down to enormous construction projects on the order of space elevators or tunnels through the Earth’s crust, or mastering controlled fusion. I personally think that fusion is the most likely solution, but who knows how long it’ll take us to get there.
Rating: 1 Votes
12 weeks ago
After reading all the interesting comments, I come to realize that Apple had chosen a solution that is easiest to install and cheapest to maintain, replace or upgrade.

Wind is great but high initial cost (tall metal structure with a huge motor & long blades on top), and maintenance is a high cost, in hiring technicians and in safety (changing huge heavy metal gears high above ground in a constantly windy environment), and the issue of birds are flying into it. And bats, who eat millions of insects every night, whose sonic radars were interfered by those huge blades.

If turbine on land is costly, you can imagine the new technology of turbines at sea. Not only costly to build and maintain but could be damaged or even lost at sea in hurricanes or earthquakes.

Nuclear is contradicting to the philosophy of those yuppy Californians. In light of numerous accidents around the world, whether human errors, design errors or earthquakes, it would be a publicity nightmare for Apple in decades to come if there is a single accident in an Apple reactor. The only people who favor nuclear are probably those who will be financially benefited from it, directly or indirectly.

Geothermal is low cost installation and low cost maintenance but it is for adding heat, not removing heat.
Rating: 1 Votes
12 weeks ago
Windpower and solarpower don't work and are not cost effective yet. The main problem is that they are not a stead source of power. Solar sucks at night. Solar/wind power also creates problems for power distribution because of it's peaks and falls in power out puts. Until they find a cost effective way to store excess energy your not going to beat Coal, Natural Gas or Nuclear. Were you can control you power source. Nuclear being the best option. Just think how much less CO2 we would have made if we didn't stop building Nuclear plants in the 70s.

Offshore wind farms suck. Ask the Netherlands how that has worked out. Offshore shoots the maintenance costs though the roof. Windpower already has a maintenance cost problem when it's on land and easy to get too.
Rating: 1 Votes

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