Apple Goes Green: Tech Giant Improves Its Sustainable Data Center Processes

9 Jul 2014 by Technology

"At the beginning of July, Apple announced that it had acquired an additional 100 acres near its Maiden, North Carolina, data center. The company plans to construct its third solar farm to supply the massive amounts of energy required to power its data center, according to Mac Rumors.

Apple reportedly invested $55 million to establish the third solar farm, which will have the capacity to provide an additional 17.5 megawatts of power. While the tech giant still has to finalize the land acquisition and submit a grading permit, Apple plans to have the new solar farm completed and up and running within the next five years.

This is just one step in a long line of energy-efficiency focused efforts the firm has made in the past few years. After once being recognized as one of the least green companies in the industry, Apple has worked to changed its image.

The Dirtiest Data
According to Wired, Greenpeace's 2011 report, ""How Dirty is Your Data?"" placed a grade on the cloud systems of the top technology companies. The report findings prompted Greenpeace and other activist groups to put Apple in their crosshairs, holding demonstrations and other events to highlight its unsustainable practices.

""Apple earned the dubious distinction of being '¦ among the worst climate offenders, with the most reliance on coal and the lowest score in clean energy,"" wrote Wired contributor Steven Levy.

The report spurred Apple to change its polluting ways, announcing not long after Greenpeace's findings became public that it intended to power all of its data center systems with renewable energy resources including wind, hydro and solar electricity.

Making Good On Its Promise
Since then, Apple has made great strides toward its promise to greatly reduce its carbon footprint. Levy noted that Greenpeace released a new report in early 2014 that showed just how serious the company was with its green intentions.

""Apple was at the head of the class, with 100 percent of its total data center power consumption coming from renewables,"" Levy wrote.

In fact, in the most recent Greenpeace report, ""#ClickClean,"" the organization hailed Apple for owning and operating the largest private solar farm in the country. Currently, all of the energy utilized to power its iCloud service comes from renewable sources, including the solar farms near its North Carolina facility, as well as an innovative solar panel design used at its Nevada data center.

Ever-expanding Solar Farms
With the purchase of 100 additional acres, Apple will no doubt hold the title for largest solar farm for quite some time. The existing Claremont solar farm near the Maiden data center can put out an impressive 20 megawatts of power. Furthermore, in 2012, Apple purchased another 200 acre plot in Conover, North Carolina, for another 20 megawatt solar farm, stated Apple Insider. This area is still being developed, but Mac Rumors noted that it seems the company is setting itself up to provide room for future expansion.

In addition to bolstering its sustainable efforts, the company will also give back to the community with its latest solar project. Apple Insider reported that the establishment of the new solar farm will create 75 new jobs, which will be available to local residents. The tech giant will also allow the community to benefit from the land it purchased.

""As it stands, the land is currently valued at $1.4 million, but Apple will be giving two parcels back to the city for use as greenways, recreation space and other public works projects,"" Apple Insider stated.

Overall, the company has ""really followed through"" on their promise to become a greener organization, noted Gary Cook, Greenpeace senior policy analyst.

""They saw they had responsibility and they've been acting on that responsibility,"" Cook said."

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