Apple’s Data Centers Go Entirely Green

Apple’s data centers are now completely powered by renewable energy, the company has revealed in its latest environmental disclosures.

Apple’s improvements, first reported by Bloomberg, also appear to have made Greenpeace happy. The pro-environment activist group had previously taken Apple to task for its use of electricity from coal-fired power plants.

Now, Apple said that it has eliminated those concerns.

“Our goal is to power every facility at Apple entirely with energy from renewable sources—solar, wind, hydro, and geothermal,” Apple wrote in a statement. “So we’re 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.

“Our investments are paying off,” the company added. “We’ve already achieved 100 percent renewable energy at all of our data centers, at our facilities in Austin, Elk Grove, Cork, and Munich, and at our Infinite Loop campus in Cupertino. And for all of Apple’s corporate facilities worldwide, we’re at 75 percent, and we expect that number to grow as the amount of renewable energy available to us increases. We won’t stop working until we achieve 100 percent throughout Apple.”

Apple attributed hitting its green goals to renewable energy products at its Maiden, N.C. data center and other facilities. In 2012, for example, Apple built a 100-acre photovoltaic facility, capable of generating 20 megawatts. A second 20-MW facility is also being built, and should be operational by late 2013. Apple also built an onsite 10-MW fuel cell installation that uses directed biogas and provides more than 83 million kWh of 24/7 baseload renewable energy annually—the largest non-utility fuel cell installation operating anywhere in the country.

“All told, Apple will be producing enough onsite renewable energy—167 million kWh—to power the equivalent of 17,600 homes for one year,” the company said.

Apple is also using Oregon’s energy direct-purchasing program to opt out of the default grid mix and directly access local renewable energy sources—enough to power its entire Prineville facility. “As a result, we’re working with two local utilities as well as a number of local renewable energy generation providers both to create Apple-owned renewable energy sources and to invest in and purchase other local renewable energy,” the company wrote.

Apple’s Newark, Calif. data center also became self-sustaining after buying 100 percent of its power from wind farms in January.

That’s good news for environmental groups. Last year, Greenpeace had criticized Apple for apparently not publishing a roadmap to its renewable energy commitment. The environmental group said at the time that, although Apple had pledged to make its data centers “coal free,” it lacked a “realistic path” to get there.

Apple’s announcement shows “real progress,” Greenpeace told Bloomberg. “Apple’s increased level of disclosure about its energy sources helps customers know that their iCloud will be powered by clean energy sources, not coal,” Gary Cook, an analyst at Greenpeace, wrote in an e-mailed statement to the news service.

Apple’s data centers power its cloud services, which include iCloud storage, and iTunes apps, music, and its video services, among others.


Image: Apple

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