16 thoughts on “Apple Says Data Centers Now Use 100% Renewable Energy”

  1. “Apple has far reaching plans and intends to sell the power the fuel cells generate to Duke Energy, the largest electric holding company in the United States, meaning Apple may not actually use the energy the fuel cells create for the actual data center. Since the fuel cells use biogas, Apple can turn a profit by selling the renewable energy credits to Duke Energy. Apple may also use its solar farm to generate energy to sell to Duke, but time will tell. In fact, Apple has already increased the solar farm generation from 20MW to 40MW.

    But the issue is paradoxical. On one hand, Apple is generating and selling clean power to Duke Energy, but the Apple data center itself is still using power from the grid, and the datacenter is not directly reaping the benefits from the fuel cell farm.”

    http://www.greenoptimistic.com/2012/12/06/apples-data-center-and-the-clean-energy-paradox/

  2. That solar farm seems to take up a lot of real estate and prevent its use for anything else as long as the farm is there. I’m doubtful that this is a good use of the land resource. Maybe a lot less green than advertised?
    It’s possible that Apple’s data centers are a good application of alternative energy. These are systems that push electrons around rather than moving pallets, grinding metal or performing any “physical” acts. Highly valuable work but low on joules or ergs. And if some forms of alternatives are going to be successful, someone has to try them out on a commercial scale and show how to make them more widely viable. I dunno if that’s actually what’s happening, or if it’s just showboating, or what mix there may be.

  3. I looked up the location on Google Earth. Very rural. Just west of Maiden, NC.

    The Google Earth pic is two year old, and construction of the solar farm appears to be underway then. A year before the Greenpeace International Extortion Corporation protest.

  4. During my career, I was involved in the design of more than one data center. At our major center in Richmond, I got an electrical substation built near our new data center to insure backup power. It only existed to be backup. We had two different substations we could run from. We did have to cut off power to switch, but it only took a minute. Usually we were down, anyway, and were switching because we had to. 30+ years ago.

    Apple’s people certainly know that they need certain power for their data centers. I don’t know what forms it may take, but you can be sure it’s there. Whatever games they are playing with renewables, you can bet your last money they have a connection to the grid. Two connections to the grid.

  5. Nothing is as it seems.

    I had a talk with a friend of mine at the gym this evening. He is a manager for my county’s electric
    utility.

    He told me some inside baseball stuff. He said that Duke Energy was surely the principal investor in the solar farm, and not Apple. Duke surely designed it, had it built, and will be responsible for its operation.

    Duke has a legislated renewable energy mandate. They are required to produce some percent of their power via renewable means. When Apple came to Duke with plans to build the server farm in a rural location, Duke saw it as a perfect opportunity to implement solar.

    Apple publicly claims they are using renewable energy – you can see the solar array right there – but it’s at best a half truth. Until they publish their contract with Duke, we know nothing.

  6. If Duke did build it, there seems to be no paper trail, so to speak. Everything says Apple owns it and it is the largest privately owned solar array. It was reported Sun Power provided the panels.
    Duke provides the power from that line that goes to the grid (meaning Apple is not 100% renewable) but does not seem to own the solar array. Apple cut down a very large woodland to put in the array. Very earth-friendly, right? And the array provides only a small portion of Apple’s electricity. I’m not seeing love of the planet here.

  7. From Google Earth’s older pix, it looks like the building went where the trees were and the solar array went into farm fields.

    Apple has no knowledge of power generation and distribution. Duke has great knowledge and experience. That Apple built it is unlikely. They have no business reason to build it, except whatever value they may get from claiming they are using renewable energy. Duke has a powerful business reason to build it – they have a gun to their head.

  8. From a Duke Energy website:

    “In 2009, Duke Energy Renewables began building and operating photovoltaic (PV) solar projects for commercial business customers throughout the U.S.”

    Fits rather perfectly.

  9. This is nothing more than creative accounting, really not much different from shuffling carbon credits. They sell ‘renewable’ energy to the grid, and get conventional energy back. One pays for the other, magically making grid energy ‘renewable’. Utter bosh.

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