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Apple Commits To 100% Renewable Energy Sources for NC Data Center 108

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the hippie-fired-power-plant dept.
judgecorp writes "Stung by continued criticism from Greenpeace and protests at Apple's headquarters over its use of electricity from non-renewable sources, Apple has promised that its data center in Maiden, North Carolina will use 100 percent renewable electricity, 60 percent of it generated by Apple itself. The update is possible because it is building a second giant solar array, and because its data center only needs 20MW at full capacity, instead of the 100MW which Greenpeace had estimated."
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Apple Commits To 100% Renewable Energy Sources for NC Data Center

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  • foo (Score:2, Interesting)

    by AWeishaupt (917501) on Saturday May 19, 2012 @11:32AM (#40051379)
    Bloom Energy's fuel cells run on methane (natural gas) drilled and/or hydrofractured out of the ground, and they react this methane with atmospheric oxygen to yield carbon dioxide which they vent to the atmosphere. The system's thermodynamic efficiency is scarcely higher than a conventional Brayton-cycle gas turbine. As with the rest of the natural gas industry, they've been quite successful in greenwashing their fossil fuel industry. So, how is it exactly that this is "renewable energy"? Anyway, I wouldn't pay attention to any circus of Greenpeace activists outside Apple headquarters. They are science and engineering illiterate neo-luddites. "just days after Greenpeace protested at Apple headquarters over the firm’s use of coal and nuclear-powered electricity at the site." Apple's NC data centre is powered, at least in part, by nuclear energy? That's great news. Now you're really talking about sustainable, scalable, high-capacity-factor, fossil-fuel-replacing, environmentally friendly energy supply.
  • by Jeremi (14640) on Saturday May 19, 2012 @11:47AM (#40051467) Homepage

    We really need to stop giving Greenpeace press. They just make things worse.

    Unless you think that getting Apple to move to 100% renewable power is making things worse, it's hard to see how you arrived at the above conclusion from this article. It seems to me that this was a win all around.

  • Stung by? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by UnknowingFool (672806) on Saturday May 19, 2012 @11:48AM (#40051475)
    WTH? Apple's first response to Greenpeace was something along the lines of "Bullshit. They don't know jack." Reading the article, it looks like Apple caved into Greenpeace's demands. If the reporter had followed Apple's proposal from the beginning, Apple had always proposed a solar array for the site. They also were planning to use landfill gas as another means of energy. Apple never disclosed how much energy the site would be required and how much would be fueled by green power but Apple estimated the center would use 20MW. Greenpeace in their vast inner knowledge of technology estimated Apple would use 100MW. Greenpeace based their estimate solely on how much Apple paid for the total cost of construction. Greenpeace never factored in that part of the construction cost was the solar array (which are expensive) and other non-server related costs. Instead of acknowledging that calculating power based on total construction cost instead of server costs was a miscalculation, Greenpeace acted as if they did something to change Apple's minds. All they did was make fools of themselves. Apple like other tech companies are interested in green power like solar and power efficiency. Part of it is being a good corporate citizen, and part of it is that it saves them money.
  • Re:But... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by niftydude (1745144) on Saturday May 19, 2012 @12:43PM (#40051905)

    The array will produce far more energy during its lifetime than was used to produce and install it.

    I wouldn't say far more.

    It takes about 10 years for a typical silicon solar cell to generate the amount of energy that was used in the cell's production. The typical lifetime of the cell is about 25 years. So these types of cells only produce about 2.5 times as much energy as was needed for its production.

    There are other solar cells such as organics that take less energy to produce, but because they have a much shorter lifespan, they aren't that much better from this point of view, and they don't get used in large arrays like this one.

    The upshot is that the situation with solar cells is not yet as good as we would like it to be, and I don't think that we should be recommending large uptake of solar cells as a truly environmental solution until there is an large improvement in energy required to energy produced ratio.

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