Apple Inc. has made an announcement on Apple’s website promising that their 500,000-square-foot data center in Maiden, North Carolina will be powered by renewable sources by the end of this year. Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer told Reuters:
“The plan we are releasing today includes two solar farms and together they will be twice as big as we previously announced, thanks to the purchase of some land very near to the data center in Maiden, which will help us meet this goal.”
This announcement has come just in time, as Apple was targeted last month by Greenpeace International over their energy consumption (specifically for using too much coal) and protested outside the company’s headquarters in Cupertino, California. In a report, Greenpeace called out Apple, along with Amazon.com Inc. and Twitter Inc. for having the facilities to use renewable resourcing but not using them. According to Greenpeace, the cloud data centers consume a lot of energy–enough energy to power 180,000 homes.
The protest was even taken to the world-famous fifth avenue Apple store where the glass cube entrance was filled with dark charcoal balloons. Protesters entered the vicinity and released the helium-filled balloons. Apple responded to the protest saying they have been in works for a greener facility and claim that their recent announcement has nothing to do with the Greenpeace protests, as the plans were in effect as of last year.
And the tech company just might be telling the truth! On their website, Apple shared its current facilities that run on renewable energy, showing that the company has been going green over the years. The website states:
For nearly 10 years, we’ve purchased 100 percent renewable energy for our operations center in Austin, Texas. Since then, we’ve added our Sacramento, California, and Cork, Ireland, operations centers and Munich, Germany, facilities to our list of sites with 100 percent renewable energy. By doing this, we’ve avoided 30,000 metric tons of CO2e emissions from our annual carbon footprint.
So what is Apple’s big plan for the future? The company will generate 60 percent of the North Carolina data center’s power through fuel cells–which will turn biogases from sources like landfills into electricity–on site and a 100-acre solar farm across the street, and will obtain the remaining 40 percent from local renewable energy providers. In addition to this big step, Apple’s new facility in Prineville, Oregon will be opened using only renewable energy.
“Our next facility will be in Prineville, Oregon. This is still in the planning stages and we have already identified plenty of renewable sources nearby,” Oppenheimer told Reuters. “We haven’t finalized our plans for on-site generation, but any power we need to run our center in Prineville that we get from the grid will be 100 percent renewable and locally generated sources.”
Regardless of whether Apple had these noble plans on their own or if the protests gave them the nudge in the right direction, there is no doubt that other successful tech companies should follow the steps of Apple’s renewable energy reforms.