In 2012, Apple began construction on its Oregon data center in Prineville. The campus, which includes two 338,000 square foot structures, is also in close proximity to a hydroelectric project that would bring power to the area. The company recently took over the initiative and plans to leverage the renewable source for its data center power needs.
A Focus on Data Center Sustainability
Data centers require massive amounts of electricity to support the vast rows of computing equipment housed inside. Apple is working to reduce its environmental footprint by powering its facilities with renewable energy instead of completely relying on the local power grid and utility providers.
According to the company, its goal is to acquire clean energy sources to power all of its facilities across the globe, including its Oregon data center. In order to meet this objective, the computing giant is “investing in our own onsite energy production, establishing relationships with suppliers to procure renewable energy off the grid, and reducing our energy needs even as our employee base grows.”
Currently, Apple boasts 100 percent renewable energy at several of its facilities, including its Austin data center and Illinois data center, as well as at structures in Ireland, Munich and Cupertino. The acquisition of the hydroelectric project is another step toward reaching its data center sustainability goal.
Powering Prineville: Oregon data center electricity
According to The Oregonian, although Apple had originally planned to purchase land near its Oregon data center to construct a solar array, the company has recently decided to pursue other options.
Toward the beginning of the month, Apple took over operations at the 45-Mile Hydroelectric Project, previously owned by EBD Hyrdro. Although EBD had secured $7 million in federal loan guarantees as well as $1.5 million in federal grants for the hydroelectric plant, sources noted that it has not been confirmed if the structure is fully operational.
While the plant has been described as being able to support 3 to 5 megawatts of critical power load, during colder months the nearby irrigation canal must be shut, effectively taking the hydro facility offline during the winter. The Oregonian pointed out that in total, the plant would only be able to provide for a small portion of the Prineville data center’s power needs, unless further development was done on the hydro project.
Nevertheless, it seems that Apple might be the company for the job. The organization already has sustainability built into its Oregon data center, including leveraging the Direct Access project to gain wind energy to power the facility.