Apple, Inc. plans to build the biggest privately owned solar farm in the United States according to its latest facilities report released earlier this week.
The company is constructing a 20 MW solar energy facility on the site of its recently commissioned data center in Maiden, North Carolina.
In the report, Apple says, "To meet the energy needs of the Maiden facility with high-percentage renewable energy mix, we have embarked on an industry-leading renewable energy program."
The solar farm is part of Maiden facility's energy efficiency plan. In addition to creating its own renewable energy the facility will draw electricity from a 5 MW fuel cell installation that is being built adjacent to the data center.
The fuel cell, which will be powered solely by biogas, will be the largest of its kind not operated by a utility. Apple says that as the data center's energy needs grows it will both build new renewable energy projects and partner with renewable energy providers.
The Maiden data center was commissioned in 2011 and received LEED Platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. Apple says it knows "of no other data center of comparable size that has achieved this level of LEED certification." The Facilities Report highlighted the energy efficiency elements implemented in Maiden's design:
- A chilled water storage system to improve chiller efficiency by transferring 10,400 kWh of electricity consumption from peak to off-peak hours each day.
- Use of “free” outside air cooling through a waterside economizer operation during night and cool-weather hours, which, along with water storage, allows the chillers to be turned off more than 75 percent of the time.
- Extreme precision in managing cooling distribution for cold-air containment pods, with variable-speed fans controlled to exactly match air flow to server requirements from moment to moment.
- Power distributed at higher voltages, which increases efficiency by reducing power loss.
- White cool-roof design to provide maximum solar reflectivity.
- High-efficiency LED lighting combined with motion sensors.
- Real-time power monitoring and analytics during operations.
- Construction processes that utilized 14 percent recycled materials, diverted 93 percent of construction waste from landfills, and sourced 41 percent of purchased materials within 500 miles of the site.
The steps taken to make its $1 billion data center a more efficient consumer of energy is part of Apple's larger goal of achieving net zero at all of its corporate facilities. The company says that it has four facilities worldwide that are powered completely by renewable energy resources.
Image Credit: jasonr611 via Flickr
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