Apple Plans Solar Farm for Increased Data Center Sustainability

For a number of years now, Apple has stated that one of its long term goals is that each of its facilities will someday be completely powered by renewable energy sources. It has invested in a variety of alternative technologies, including solar, wind, hydroelectric and geothermal power. The company recently came one step closer to achieving this goal with the announcement of plans to build a solar farm at their Oregon data center.

The Oregonian stated that Apple has taken steps to begin building a large scale solar array on 200 acres abutting its nearly completed Prineville facility. The organization received approval from the local city and county officials at the beginning of January to extend the coverage of existing data center tax incentives for the IT equipment and green energy use to the new site. While Apple does not currently own the adjacent site, it has an option to purchase it. These benefits have drawn a number of companies to establish data centers in the state.

“Oregon has attracted large data centers from Apple, Google, Facebook and Amazon because the state offers property tax exemptions through its enterprise zone program, and because it has no sales tax on the pricy computers that run server farms,” The Oregonian stated.

Power Usage a Continuing Issue
Oregon’s data center tax incentives could enable Apple to save tens of millions of dollars per year, combating escalating data center electricity bills. This has been a pain point within the industry for a while and more organizations have turned to data center power alternatives for boosted facility sustainability.

The Oregonian pointed out that although Apple has not publicly stated the exact amount of energy its Oregon data center will utilize, it will likely be close to the amount used by Google’s 37 megawatt facility in The Dalles. Google’s data center consumes the same amount of energy used to power 27,000 residences.

Currently, the Prineville data center, where construction began in late 2012, is nearing completion.

North Carolina Data Center Sustainability Paves the Way
This isn’t the first time Apple has leveraged data center power alternatives for its facilities. The organization also constructed solar farms near data centers in North Carolina and Nevada, according to GigaOM.

Alternative energy will contribute to the company’s 100 percent clean running data center sustainability goal, with any excess energy produced to be sold back to the local utility and is the approached used at the North Carolina data center, which boasts a 20 megawatt solar farm.

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