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Old Jan 10, 2014, 01:23 PM   #1
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Apple Continues Hiring for Oregon Data Center as Solar Farm Plans Take Shape




Apple has posted three new job listings for the data center the company is constructing in Prineville, Oregon. Apple is seeking two Data Center Maintenance Technicians, along with a Data Center Chief Engineer, a position the company has been trying to fill since early 2013.

While the chief engineer would be responsible for overseeing, testing, and monitoring the data center, as well as implementing new projects, the maintenance technicians would identify and repair potential issues quickly.

Apple has been hiring for the 338,000 square-foot Prineville data center since shortly after construction began in October of 2012, and has maintained a temporary modular data center on the site to house employees. With the new hirings, as well as rumors of a solar farm coming to the site, it appears the Prineville data center may be growing closer to completion.

Apple's Prineville data center under construction in February 2013 (Randy L. Rasmussen/The Oregonian)
According to a recent statement by Prineville mayor Betty Rope, Apple is planning to add a solar farm to the Oregon data center, just as it has done in North Carolina.
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Mayor Betty Roppe says those agreements were with Apple. She says the company's enterprise zone agreement defers taxes on improvements to the land for a period of 15 years.

"My understanding is that they will create the solar farm and then they will sell that back to the companies that they actually get their electricity from," said Roppe.
Apple has committed to running all of its data centers with 100% renewable green energy, an initiative that it embraced for its massive Maiden, North Carolina data center. In Maiden, Apple has two operational solar farms, providing 42 million kWh of clean, renewable energy.

According to Apple's environmental site, the Oregon data center is designed to be as environmentally responsible as the site in North Carolina, though at the current time, the Oregon data center is much smaller in scale. While Apple has not specifically outlined plans to install a solar farm in Oregon, it has pledged to purchase renewable energy directly from two local utilities and other local renewable energy generation providers.

Back in September, Apple did look into purchasing an additional 96 acres of land near the Prineville, Oregon site, which could be the home of a future solar farm.

In North Carolina, Apple's massive solar farms generate approximately 40MW along with another 10MW from fuel cells, and at times of peak energy, Apple produces power for Duke Energy, the local utility company. The NC solar farm consists of more than 50,000 panels on 100 acres of land and will likely serve as a blueprint for solar farms in other areas.

Image of North Carolina solar farm courtesy of Gigaom
Along with the solar farms at its Maiden, North Carolina data center, and the possible solar farm in Oregon, Apple is also planning to build a solar farm at its Reno, Nevada data center.

Article Link: Apple Continues Hiring for Oregon Data Center as Solar Farm Plans Take Shape
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Old Jan 10, 2014, 01:26 PM   #2
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It's good to see Apple is not just paying lip service to its energy requirements.

Now if they'd just make their machines a little more serviceable...
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Old Jan 10, 2014, 01:31 PM   #3
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Would have been a big +1 if Katie Fehrenbacher had snapped that photo on a sunny day.
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Old Jan 10, 2014, 01:33 PM   #4
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Old Jan 10, 2014, 01:42 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Santabean2000 View Post
It's good to see Apple is not just paying lip service to its energy requirements.

Now if they'd just make their machines a little more serviceable...
I know! All those damn third-party PCI-e laptop SSDs that I can't fit in my MacBook, thanks to Apple.
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Old Jan 10, 2014, 01:49 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Santabean2000 View Post
It's good to see Apple is not just paying lip service to its energy requirements.

Now if they'd just make their machines a little more serviceable...
But how will Apple make money if they don't force us to buy all RAM up front? If we could fix things ourselves, we wouldn't need AppleCare...
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Old Jan 10, 2014, 01:55 PM   #7
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Can't beat that Carolina sunshine!
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Old Jan 10, 2014, 01:57 PM   #8
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Would have been a big +1 if Katie Fehrenbacher had snapped that photo on a sunny day.
Here, this is just for you, Katie. Next time, do you own freaking job!

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Old Jan 10, 2014, 01:59 PM   #9
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Solar farm in Oregon? That should work out well
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Old Jan 10, 2014, 02:03 PM   #10
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Apple really is going GREEN aren't they?

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Old Jan 10, 2014, 02:05 PM   #11
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I agree. This is like taking a photo of a hydroelectric damn after it freezes over.
Having lived in the Pacific Northwest, that's how most days are. Fortunately, solar energy is not just visible light. Plenty of solar power still makes it past the clouds.
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Old Jan 10, 2014, 02:22 PM   #12
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I know! All those damn third-party PCI-e laptop SSDs that I can't fit in my MacBook, thanks to Apple.
Yes, glued screens, glued batteries and soldered everything... green as. They could be better. [I know they're better than some though]
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Old Jan 10, 2014, 02:32 PM   #13
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Yes, glued screens, glued batteries and soldered everything... green as. They could be better. [I know they're better than some though]
Ah, I thought you meant serviceable rather than environmental. Just that the iBooks & PowerBooks of past were far more difficult to service/teardown than even the most stubborn Retina MacBook Pro. :-)
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Old Jan 10, 2014, 02:52 PM   #14
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PNW Oregon drizzle and solar farm backup facility

It's hard to believe solar farm panels will provide all the power needed for a large data center, especially in the PNW Oregon area where it drizzles much of the time. However, the central Oregon Prineville area's annual rainfall is surprisingly low at around 12-15 inches. I'm sure Apple or its contractors have done extensive research into the climate and decided on the benefits of solar energy.

Cloudy days for Prineville...


My understanding is that many solar farms depend a great deal on natural gas for generating electricity for times when the solar farm simply cannot create enough power, even if it stores some up during good times. That is to say, solar farm are really nothing more that natural gas generating electrical energy for the most part.

Solar farms are very fashionable these days but really not all that practical IMO. Clean reusable nuclear energy is really the answer to reducing CO2.
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Old Jan 10, 2014, 03:00 PM   #15
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Solar farm in Oregon? That should work out well
Here in Central Oregon, which includes Prineville, we get quite a lot of sun. West of the Cascades is where you find the stereotypical Oregon weather.
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Old Jan 10, 2014, 04:06 PM   #16
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Here in Central Oregon, which includes Prineville, we get quite a lot of sun. West of the Cascades is where you find the stereotypical Oregon weather.
My sister lived in Lake Oswego for a few years. I stayed for 1 month during winter and didn't see the sun the entire time.
Summer's were beautiful though.
I guess that what I think of when I think of Oregon
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Old Jan 10, 2014, 05:02 PM   #17
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…..Clean reusable nuclear energy is really the answer to reducing CO2.
Not sure what you mean with 'reusable', but there's nothing 'clean' about the spent radioactive fuel rods that nuclear plant operators have no idea what to do with, other than temporarily storing them in large pools of water.

Not to mention the multiple risks associated with the operation of conventional nuclear power plants, ie earthquakes, natural disasters, meltdowns or terrorist attacks.

Unless you are talking about Hydrogen fusion, which is our best long-term hope for a reasonably clean and practically inexhaustible supply of energy for the life-span of our universe. Cern, Iter and Jet, all eyes are on you!
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Old Jan 10, 2014, 06:02 PM   #18
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It's not all about how much SUN is present. It's about the outdoor temperature where the data center is located. Being located in the scorching desert of New Mexico would require LOTS more energy to the hundreds (if not thousands) of data computers running at the ideal temperature. From what I hear, that part of Oregon is a good balance for maintaining a good indoor temperature at little energy cost.

That part of Oregon is also near the "energy grid" lines... from what I've heard.

As well, if necessary, the energy costs there are lower than in many parts of the US. If energy is needed, it is cheaper there.

Lets not forget about tax credits too.
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Old Jan 10, 2014, 08:54 PM   #19
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Why are those solar panels over grass? Can you imagine how difficult it's going to be (even with industrial equipment) to service the land around that equipment?
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Old Jan 11, 2014, 03:17 AM   #20
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I'd be interested to know whether Apple intend to build any data centres outside the US such as in Europe.
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Old Jan 11, 2014, 05:34 AM   #21
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They should make iPads recyclable.. at the moment they are just expensive waste.
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Old Jan 11, 2014, 06:23 AM   #22
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They should make iPads recyclable.. at the moment they are just expensive waste.
I very much doubt whether many of them have been binned so far, even iPad 1's that are broken sell for decent money on eBay so someone is making use of them.

When they are eventually binned the materials will be recovered in the same way as they are from any other PC, screen, tablet, phone etc.
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Old Jan 11, 2014, 06:58 AM   #23
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When they are eventually binned the materials will be recovered in the same way as they are from any other PC, screen, tablet, phone etc.
No, unfortunately not... iPads (especially after iPad 2) are extremely difficult to recycle, nearly everything is glued to the aluminium, even if it's already screwed to it. The battery alone is a PITA to remove and there's no easy way to recycle large numbers of it

This is of course not Apple-only, other devices cause the same problems.
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Old Jan 11, 2014, 09:34 AM   #24
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My understanding is that many solar farms depend a great deal on natural gas for generating electricity for times when the solar farm simply cannot create enough power, even if it stores some up during good times. That is to say, solar farm are really nothing more that natural gas generating electrical energy for the most part.
Although I don't know for sure, this phrase in the story, "then they will sell that back to the companies that they actually get their electricity from," implies that what they're building is what's generically called a "grid-tied system."

I have one (in a cloudy, rainy town) and the way it works is that there's no local storage (no batteries) but if at any moment my panels are generating more than I'm using, my excess flows back into the grid. At night, when I'm obviously generating nothing, I draw from the grid.

My power company will either buy that excess power (at a not-very-good rate) or will simply give me a credit, which is the way I handle it.

So I doubt that Apple's setup uses natural gas. Instead, when they aren't making power they use power from the grid precisely as they would if they had no panels. But when they are, they either use some or none.

It's a very workable system, and I'm sure that if you have a solar farm rather than 16 panels on a residential roof peaking at 4 KW, you can negotiate a favorable rate for selling your power when you have excess to sell.

I'm sure the kind of plant that bxs is talking about exists. But typically a plant like that would be owned by a power utility, which needs to keep supplying energy even when there's no sun. An end user, even a giant end user like Apple, isn't under any such constraints.
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Old Jan 11, 2014, 11:36 PM   #25
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Why are those solar panels over grass? Can you imagine how difficult it's going to be (even with industrial equipment) to service the land around that equipment?
The North Carolina facility pictured uses sheep to graze on the grass.
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