Tentative rumours about technology company Apple’s investment in solar power have been partially confirmed. The Guardian said today that a spokeswoman for Apple would only verify that the company was preparing the ground next to its data centre in California, but not whether it has any intention to leave coal behind and turn to solar power.
According to a California-based publication The Charlotte Observer, Apple had received a permit to clear a 121 acre site next to its US$1 billion data centre, used to store Apple customers’ information for its iCloud application.
The project became public knowledge in the town when work crews began burning the cleared brush from the site in mid-October. Neighbours complained about the smoke billowing into their homes. “They decided after that since it was annoying the neighbours to bring in a chipper and shred and mulch all the wood,” said Toni Norton, an engineer for Catawba County.
A Greenpeace spokesperson, last month, told another publication, The A Register, that early estimates indicate the project, dubbed Project Dolphin, could have a 100MW capacity, producing on average, 30,000MW hours per year.
With the expansion of cloud computing, companies such as Apple have invested heavily in large data centres for their web-based services – often in areas promising cheap electricity, such as North Carolina. The A Register wrote: “Cheap power and land is what attracts many companies to North Carolina, with Facebook and Google also having data centres there and incentive schemes like the One North Carolina Fund are set up to get employment for local workers.”
It is hoped that this installation could offset the bad press Apple has received on the environmental impact of its facilities and services. In April this year, Greenpeace named Apple the ‘least green’ tech company in a report titled How Dirty is Your Data? Companies in the US are not required by law to disclose their energy use or carbon emissions, however, through publically available information, Greenpeace estimated that Apple’s dependence on coal for the data centres was at 54.5%, followed closely by Facebook at 53.2%.
Apple is yet to respond to our request for confirmation on the figures and details listed in this article.