NEW YORK – Apple plans to use renewable energy in its main data center in the U.S. before the year ends, taking steps to address long-standing environmental concerns about the rapid expansion of their farms that consume much electricity.
The maker of the iPhone and iPad said Thursday that they will buy equipment and hire SunPower Bloom Energy to build two installations of solar cells in and around Maiden, NC near its main data center.
Once running, the solar farm will provide about 84 million kilowatt hours of energy per year. The facilities will use high-efficiency solar cells and advanced sun-tracking technology.
“The two solar farms cover 100 hectares, and is among the largest in the industry,” Chief Financial Officer of Apple, Peter Oppenheimer told Reuters.
Apple plans to use carbon-free electricity in its three data centers, and hopes that the installation of Maiden coal be shelved in late 2012.
“I’m not aware of any other company in the industry that produces energy at this scale,” Oppenheimer said in a telephone interview.
“The plan we are presenting today includes two solar farms that are twice larger than we previously announced, through the purchase of land close to the data center in Maiden, which will help us meet this goal “he said.
SunPower shares rose more than 10% to close at 5.59 dollars this Thursday, and added another 6 cents in after-hours trading.
Concerns about the ever increasing power consumption of computer data centers have increased in recent years due to technology giants building huge facilities to house their servers and dealing with an explosion in Internet traffic, use of multimedia, and data hosting services to businesses through cloud computing.
“Our next installation will be in Prineville, Oregon. This is still in the planning stages and we have closely identified many sources of renewable energy,” said Oppenheimer.
“We have not finalized our plans for local power generation, but all the electricity we need to operate our center in Prineville will receive 100% renewable energy that is generated by local sources,” he added.