North Carolina Regulators Approve Apple's Plans for 4.8-Megawatt Fuel Cell Facility at Maiden Data Center

The North Carolina Utilities Commission today officially approved (PDF) Apple's proposal to construct a 4.8-megawatt fuel cell electric generating facility near its data center in Maiden, North Carolina. The Commission previously approved a plan by Apple to build the first of two 20 megawatt solar farms around its data center.

The Public Staff presented this matter to the Commission at its Regular Staff Conference on May 21, 2012. The Public Staff recommended that the Commission approve the application and issue a certificate of public convenience and necessity.

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 4.8-MW AC fuel cell electric generating facility located at 5977 Startown Road, Maiden, Catawba County, North Carolina.

Previous filings (PDF) with federal regulators have indicated that Apple plans to have the fuel cell facility installed by July 16, with operation to begin by July 30.

NewImage

Bloom's Fuel Cell Boxes

Apple is acquiring the fuel cell boxes from Bloom Energy, based in Sunnyvale, California, near Apple's Cupertino headquarters where Apple already has some Bloom boxes installed. It appears that the fuel cell boxes will be powered by standard natural gas from the grid, while Apple will be purchasing environmentally-friendly biogas from a local provider which will be inserted into the grid at a 1:1 ratio. This will keep the system as "green" as possible.

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 fuel cell installation in the United States not owned by a utility company.

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Top Rated Comments

Wondercow Avatar
157 months ago
. . . noting that the facility will be the largest user-owned fuel cell installation in the United States not owned by a utility company. . . .
Is there a United States that is owned by a utility company?


That's great news.

I wonder how greenpeace will ignore this piece of news?
They won't ignore it; they'll notice it and complain that the ratio is a lowly 1:1 :rolleyes:
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Consultant Avatar
157 months ago
That's great news.

I wonder how greenpeace will ignore this piece of news?
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
hansende Avatar
157 months ago
My wife has plenty of "biogas". I would be willing to gladly have her collect it and send it to North Carolina.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
justperry Avatar
157 months ago
I hear that there are some smaller scale pebble reactors that are supposed to be quite safe compared with the old style fuel rod models although there is still the issue with storage, transport and safe disposal of the spent fuel.

Or a thorium nuclear reactor, many advantages over conventional reactors.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
coder12 Avatar
157 months ago
We'll still need more power if we want to be able to use the flux capacitor! Keep building these fuel cells, eventually we'll get there! ;)
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
dasmb Avatar
157 months ago
Make one affordable to power a home and I can say FU to the rest of the world.

Probably not the best idea. Unlike hydrogen fuel cells, these kinds of fuel cells depend on a high temperature reaction at around 1000ºF. Besides the inherent danger of installing something hotter than a pottery kiln near where your kids play, waste heat means decreased efficiency as the size of the installation drops. Better to get a megawatt sized unit for your neighborhood and sell the unused juice back to the grid.

Of course, you're still going to have to get the fuel, which means a source of natural gas or biofuels and a way to refine them so you don't gunk up your power system with a lot of impurities. That pretty much ties you to a grid.

Your best bet for off-grid living is still a big bank of solar or wind and an array of chemical batteries. Failing that, a propane generator is pretty nice.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)