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.
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.