Apple Strikes Deal for Third Solar Farm at North Carolina Data Center

Discussion in 'Mac Blog Discussion' started by MacRumors, Jul 7, 2014.

  1. macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    Apple has struck a deal for a new 100-acre solar farm near its Maiden, North Carolina data center, the third such farm providing energy for the facility, reports the Hickory Daily Record. According to the report, Apple will be making an initial investment of $55 million in the solar farm, which will generate 17.5 megawatts of power.
    Apple's North Carolina data center is the first in a series of significant data center projects the company has undertaken in recent years, with Apple also working on centers in Oregon and Nevada. Under its promise to run its data centers on 100% renewable energy, Apple has been investing heavily in energy sources such as solar and biogas while purchasing other types of renewable energy from suppliers.

    The North Carolina data center was joined by a 20-megawatt solar farm across the street by late 2012, and Apple has also been developing a second 20-megawatt solar farm a few miles away. The data center is also powered by a biogas fuel cell facility that began as a 4.8-megawatt project but was later expanded to 10 megawatts.

    Apple's exact plans for this third solar farm are unclear, as the five-year planning horizon suggests it may be part of a longer-term vision for the site. The current data center primarily consists of a massive 500,000 square-foot building, but plans presented by Apple during the project's development depicted a second building of equal size ultimately being constructed next door. Apple's timeline for any expansion of that magnitude for the data center itself remain unknown.

    Article Link: Apple Strikes Deal for Third Solar Farm at North Carolina Data Center
  2. macrumors 6502a

    Feb 7, 2011
    ... You know... It boggles my mind why they waste so much money on this stuff and don't invest in liquid fluoride thorium reactor technology instead. They certainly have the resources to take on bureaucracy and to make this a public issue... I mean, if they really care about green energy...
  3. macrumors 6502

    Jun 8, 2011
    Unfortunately, the general public go a bit loopy when they hear nuclear being suggested. It's quite disappointing.
  4. macrumors newbie

    Jul 27, 2007
    Winston-Salem, NC
    That photo reminds me of the solar farms in Transcendence...
  5. macrumors regular


    Oct 14, 2013
    Why the focus on solar energy? How about wind turbines?
    Current onshore wind turbines can reach 7.5-8 MW per turbine. Why not combine these two elements? They should have enough space on these solar farms to mix both technologies.
  6. macrumors 65816

    captain kaos

    Jan 16, 2008
    What id love to see (and i have no idea why we don't do this), is for large amounts of the desert here in Australia (ie, the middle section!) was full of Solar panels. You could power the entire country.

    Note that Crescent Dunes Solar Farm took only 2 years to build and produces 110 MegaWatts!
  7. macrumors 68020

    Jul 29, 2002
    Vancouver, BC CANADA
    Yah, imagine solar panels on the blades of the wind turbine. :)
  8. macrumors regular


    Oct 14, 2013
    Yeah, but that's not what I meant.

    If you consider the whole productions costs and the environmental impact, wind turbine's are ahead of solar panels.
    Wind turbine's are mostly assembled locally (locally means in the country). That creates much more jobs (see the development in northern Germany or Scandinavia).
  9. macrumors 6502

    Sep 14, 2003
    Melbourne & Shanghai
    Problem with current wind turbines is really around environmental impact of local birds/bats and other flying animals.

    The newer designs overcome this but have yet to be tested in large scale deployments.
  10. macrumors newbie

    Mar 31, 2014
    Because it's not profitable for energy companies
  11. macrumors 68040


    Nov 5, 2007
    I think those big 8 MW turbines are offshore. Onshore, modern, high quality turbines are still huge (like 30 stories high) but they have something like 3 to 4 MW capacity.

    One reason not to do Wind Turbines is that Wind Turbines cast shadows (and the shadows of the blades move creating a flicker effect). They also make noise. So often the local communities don't want them unless they are far (as in miles) from the nearest homes.

    As for solar, this is a crazy long development plan. There must be huge amounts of grading work on the ground. Or something. If the ground were already flat and open, then construction should take less than a year. Talking about 5 years to make a solar facility (and not a particularly huge one) doesn't make any sense unless something else is going on. Maybe larger transmission lines need to be built as well.
  12. macrumors regular


    Oct 14, 2013
    I dont think that these numbers are up to date. Look at the Enercon E-126 for example. In 2011 this wind turbine was updated to deliver 7.6 megawatt. Onshore!

    Of course there are disadvantages. But look at these Data Center's. They are in very sparsely populated areas.
    I think with a combination of solar power and wind turbine's the available space can be used more efficient. And: wind blows at nights, too.
  13. macrumors 6502

    Apr 19, 2010
    Resource spread.

    I'd imagine solar is probably more cost effective (or otherwise effective) for the given region.


    Doubt those are very cost effective.

    Current wind turbines aren't much more than 2 MW on average.
  14. macrumors 6502a

    Jan 24, 2010
    Solar only creates power when it's sunny, wind turbines only create power when it's windy.

    Geothermal energy though creates power 24/7 and can be located virtually anywhere on earth. It boggles my mind why it isn't use as much, it's actually cheaper than both solar and wind power to create and unlike solar and wind you can build other structures on top of it, so technically it uses less land as well.

    Until hydrogen and nuclear fusion become available energy sources (which could be evades away), geothermal offers arguably the best available renewable green energy resource.
  15. macrumors 68000


    Jun 29, 2007
    Solar works when it light out, doesn't have to be sunny.
  16. macrumors regular


    Oct 14, 2013
    Good point. Do you have any numbers at hand?
  17. macrumors 6502a

    Dec 2, 2013
    It’s more cost effective right now, and if we’re honest, the sun blasts us with far more energy than we could ever harness from the wind. Improvements in harnessing solar energy are going to unlock much more energy than wind.

    That being said, using both together is a good idea. Line the entire East side of your solar farm with wind turbines. Seems legit. But there might be other limiting factors, like the solar farm not being in a particularly windy location.


    If only we could all be Iceland.

    The biggest problem is that in most places in the US, we’d have to dig pretty far to get the maximum heat differential needed to make geothermal useful. There’s a few hot spots, like Hawaii, Yellowstone, a few other places along the Pacific rim, where we wouldn’t have to dig at all. Unfortunately, we’ve aparently decided that those should be wilderness reserves?

    But yeah, we could make geothermal work really well. But it’d require a huge investment right now, and people with money seem to have a hard time seeing past that.
  18. macrumors 6502a

    Jan 24, 2010
    You don't have to be in Iceland, or any place with geothermal activity. Of course being closer to these places makes it more efficient, but like I said it can be placed virtually anywhere.
  19. macrumors regular

    Nov 26, 2002
    That land would naturally be forested, they may have even clear cut the forest to install those solar panels. In any case it seems counter-productive to remove acres of forest to install solar panels.
  20. macrumors 6502a

    Dec 2, 2013
    Right. But in most places, you’d have to maintain infastructure a kilometer or more underground, and like I said, that’s not cost effective. I didn’t say it wasn’t possible.
  21. macrumors 6502a

    Jan 24, 2010
    No you don't. You only need to dig or drill down a few feet.


    Here is a few misconceptions details about it which basically back up what I said.
    A simple google search will find tons more information if your interested.

    For homes and small commercial premises it really should be the renewable energy source used over solar power. If a company like Apple are dedicated enough to build large scale solar farms as they are doing then there is no reason why they shouldn't build geothermal farms. They would get energy 24/7.


    My point was that the sun needs to be out and during the night it isn't creating any energy, a major problem for winter nights, especially as that is when most energy is consumed as well.
  22. macrumors regular

    Jul 10, 2008
    Cincinnati, Ohio, USA
    Windpower and solarpower don't work and are not cost effective yet. The main problem is that they are not a stead source of power. Solar sucks at night. Solar/wind power also creates problems for power distribution because of it's peaks and falls in power out puts. Until they find a cost effective way to store excess energy your not going to beat Coal, Natural Gas or Nuclear. Were you can control you power source. Nuclear being the best option. Just think how much less CO2 we would have made if we didn't stop building Nuclear plants in the 70s.

    Offshore wind farms suck. Ask the Netherlands how that has worked out. Offshore shoots the maintenance costs though the roof. Windpower already has a maintenance cost problem when it's on land and easy to get too.
  23. macrumors 6502a

    Dec 2, 2013
    Baha, um, what?

    Just to get a perspective on what you were talking about, I went ahead and read that nat-geo article you linked to. And that’s a good use of ground heat. Controlling the temperature of a home using that system might be cost effective over the life of the system. Meaning you might break even, but you would have a much smaller carbon footprint. So sure. Totally worth it. I might look at putting a system like that in my house, actually.

    But I think you’d find that the temperature differential at that depth wouldn’t be sufficient for climate control in a large data center with tens of thousands of heat-producing servers. What you need there is air conditioning, and what you need for that is electricity. And what you need to produce electricity is an enormous geothermal gradient to the tune of 150-200ºC.

    And even if you live in an area where a large geothermal gradient is easy to obtain, you only really beat out the efficiency of solar power when it comes to heating. That’s why Iceland likes it so much. Cheap, extremely efficient heat. But if you need to use that energy to power, say, 10,000 servers, you need it in the form of electricity. Making that conversion reduces the efficiency of the energy harnessing process, and last I checked, it reduced it below the conversion efficiency of a good solar cell.

    I can look into some actual numbers if you like, but I’m reasonably confident that geothermal energy would be a terrible way to power a data center in North Carolina.


    I agree that nuclear is probably the best option we have now. Breeder reactors would even extend our current supply of fuel and drastically reduce the amount of waste the process produces. But it’s only a stopgap. Our long-term (as in completely clean never-ending power) solutions basically boil down to enormous construction projects on the order of space elevators or tunnels through the Earth’s crust, or mastering controlled fusion. I personally think that fusion is the most likely solution, but who knows how long it’ll take us to get there.
  24. macrumors regular

    Mar 18, 2010
    What is the environmental impact of installing 100 acres of solar panels? There must be a better way to produce reliable clean power without deforesting the countryside then littering it with solar panels.

    Energy efficiency in the products we use is as just as important as the technology we use to produce energy. You can harm and/or help our environment with either focus.
  25. macrumors 603


    Erm, what???

    Then tell me why they are building even more?

    This link is from the dutch government, fill out in Google translate to get an English translation.


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