Apple: We’re Cleaning Up the Cloud

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), which has been targeted by environment watchdog Greenpeace over its energy consumption, announced that its main U.S. data center in Maiden, North Carolina, will be powered completely by renewable sources by the end of the year.

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Apple said it would buy equipment from SunPower (NASDAQ:SPWR) and Bloom Energy to build two solar array installations in and around Maiden to power its 500,000-square-foot center with high-efficiency solar cells. It will add a third bio-gas fuel-cell plant later. The project is expected to supply 84 million kWh of energy every year.

“I’m not aware of any other company producing energy onsite at this scale,” Apple chief financial officer 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.”

Oppenheimer added that the company hoped to stop relying on coal at all three of its data centers soon, with renewable sources for its next facility at Prineville, Oregon, already having been identified.

“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,” he said.

With Internet use and the popularity of cloud computing services expanding rapidly, concerns about power consumption by computer data centers have been growing. Last month, Greenpeace had releases a report ranking 14 of the largest cloud service companies for their reliance on clean sources of electricity, with Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN) rated among the worst.

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