back to article Apple slaps mega-solar panel field on new ENORMO data centre

Apple has dropped a few more details about its huge new data centre in Maiden, North Carolina in an update to its environmental policy published yesterday. A big feature of the new billion-dollar data centre – needed to keep Siri chatting back, and to let new OS Mountain Lion sync games in real time between iPhones and Macs – is …

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Anonymous Coward

What we all want to know

Were the solar cells made in a Chinese sweat shop using child labour?

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Gimp

Yes, but Apples Marketing people will only mention the solar and biofuel initiatives, therefore they are the only ones that exist by imperious decree.

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EWI

"If the whale-huggers are right"

Gunning for Lewis's job, are we?

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Big Brother

Won't somebody please think of the wong family...

"the bulk - 60 per cent - comes from manufacturing its devices."

So 60 percent of the energy is directly from the chinese battery farms producing these shiny things 24 hours a day until the workers manage to pry a window open and can turn themselves into human compost?

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Mac Mini Server

The Mac Mini Server is a very capable low power box. Perhaps Apple is using a bunch of those?

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Trollface

Nice tribute

Keeping Jobs parking spot just by the door like that.

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FAIL

Solar = Joke

This is such a joke. Solar is nothing but a touchy feely carrot to give to all the limp wristed hand wringers who want to feel like they are making a difference when they buy x companies product. It is horribly ineffecient and costly in both dollars and waste material to construct. The rate of failure is high for the investment as well. But hey, its Apple, pretty soon, they will be saying they invented the idea....(and suing someone for it)

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Thumb Down

Re: Solar = Joke

I was going to downvote you until your last sentence. Then I downvoted you anyway.

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Anonymous Coward

LIP SERVICE

but at least they are doing something,

There are tax breaks for this after all, no one does something for nothing unless there is a gain in it for them.

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If

if, if, if, estimate, estimate, estimate.

I guess "We haven't a clue" wouldn't have made much of an article.

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Megaphone

Re: "If" ............Actually estimates are all one has to go on.

After all, Cupertino would not answer the question hmm? Unless you are suggesting that we all shut up simply because the company concerned (which ever example of "BigCorp" we are talking about) has decided that it prefers that the issue (what ever it may be) is not discussed?

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Re: If

..... but "we are whizz at maths." could be an addendum to the title. The calculation that x kwh per hour is the same as x kw is quite staggering in its depth of understanding.

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Anonymous Coward

Not sure why other commentards have a problem with this. With photovoltaics Apple is doing what it usually does in other areas, invest in a mostly underinvested and underused technology to figure out how turn it into something they can benefit from.

Solar may be a touchy feely tech now, but it's also the nicest kind of energy. It just sits there putting out power, not moving nor disturbing anything. It's also nature's most common energy source, which should really tell us something.

It's good to see anyone in the commercial sector investing and dedicating such a large area for it, not just a couple of rooftops.

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FAIL

But its inefficient to build...

The problem with your ideal world is that these panles are horribly inefficient and generate tons of green house gass etc in manufacture. Before this is embraced and too many roll them out they need to become more environmentally friendly. Just think of all the waste genreated while we fabricate the glasses, cells and frames to hold these.

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Stop

Re: But its inefficient to build...

Are you serious?

Think about the waste in finding, exploring, trading and transporting fossil fuels, then add another round of wastage in extracting and transporting electric energy from those fuels.

With solar at least it's just the panels, some electronics and essentially electricity comes out the other side.

When the solar cell wafers break down you can replace them keeping the glass and frames for minimal wastage, the system itself should last at least a good 20 years.

It's precisely to combat narrow thinking such as yours that we need more commercial installations.

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Re: Re: But its inefficient to build...

Does solar cell manufacture still generate large quantities of toxic heavy-metal waste?

I seem to recall that some years ago, one of the top polluters in the US was a firm making solar cells. They contaminated the ground around them with arsenic and gallium in the process.

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Anonymous Coward

@Franklin

Like most electronics, if the factory doesn't manage the waste and just dumps it on the nearby river solar panel production will cause pollution. But It doesn't have to be bad, and th industry is getting better.

Even when problems pop up, compared to disasters such as the Deepwater Horizon...

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FAIL

Real money maker for Apple at the expense of ratepayers.

Solar power usually caries about a 40c / kWh taxpayer supplied bonus, so that means that Apple will be grossing about 82 million kWh * 0.4 = $32 million per year.

In other words, if the set up is a 'normal' solar/ biomass setup, Apple will get income of $32 million from the plant, which it can use to purchase power on the open market at about 0.06 / kWh, so that will pay for almost all the electricity they use. Plus they get to issue press releases about 'break even' and reducing the bill to zero.

Of course the environmental benefits are about zero or worse.

Putting the facility in upstate NY, and using 100% carbon free Quebec hydro power would have made more environmental sense, but its all about kickbacks and tax breaks, now isn't it?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Real money maker for Apple at the expense of ratepayers.

What's your source for the quoted 40c/KWh taxpayer supplied bonus *for commercial users*?

I csn't find anything of the sort in the official listings at :

http://www.dsireusa.org/incentives/index.cfm?state=NC&re=1&ee=1&spv=0&st=0&srp=1

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Real money maker for Apple at the expense of ratepayers.

Not to mention you're forgetting they have to pay for the solar cells and those probable cost a lot more than $32 million...

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Big Brother

Bio-gas? Are they going to harvest methane emanating from employees?

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Hot air

I think the hot air from Apple's Marketing Department would be enough?

When the marketing department comes up with a new campaign, send them to the data centre to produce some power!

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min

with all their cash sitting about..

...shouldn't they just build a nuclear plant at this plant and sell the surplus to the grid?

not that i'm sure any government would put such stuff in the hands of private companies. it'll be far more efficient than bloody photovoltaic panels.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: with all their cash sitting about..

I know you're being sarky - but that's actually not a bad idea. Investing in small modular reactors now is going to be a smart move.

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Happy

Re: Re: with all their cash sitting about..

Great idea, I've read about this before and Toshiba/Westinghouse are doing a lot of work on making the concept happen. Even Bill Gates is interested:-

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/8582692.stm

I guess I should expect flames since I mentioned Bill so I'll get my coat right now!

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Re: Re: with all their cash sitting about..

Might be an excellent application for an LFTR (Liquified Fluoride Thorium Reactor) Clean, efficient, modularized and would work fantastic.

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min

Re: Re: with all their cash sitting about..

..i was only half heartedly sarcastic. it is such a great idea and would be of serious benefit, assuming the natural predatory profiteers don't price everyone else out of the idea first.

but then again, with all the disinformation about nuclear energy, there'll always be huge implimentation obstacles.

speaking of Gates..isn't one of his ex-partners heading the think tank in Washington state that comes up with 'out-there' ideas such as this one?

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Facepalm

re: Solar = Joke

What a ridiculous comment ! All our power comes from our star. What's so ridiculous about cutting out the middlemen ? We're going to have to do it eventually.

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Mushroom

Re "Investing in small modular reactors now is going to be a smart move."

Mr Ahmadinejad might not support your idea in six months!

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Colin 4

you are joking about us having to put up PV cells everywhere right?

right? please say you're joking.

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Pirate

Not surprising

There is some sort of solar-farm madness going on in North Carolina. My fiancee lives there (in the mountains south of Asheville) and I was surprised at the number of solar farms out in Bum-Fuck-Egypt, NC. Not as big as this 100-acre farm that Apple has planned, but lots of them that are 1 to 10 acres. It's gotten so prevalent that some local governments are putting moratoriums on constructing new solar farms to rein-in the solar-farm developers. Apparently south-west NC's primary real income is still tourism in the mountains, and the tourists aren't too keen on seeing shiny new solar-farms all over the place.

Apple may be trying to gain some whalehugger cred with this, but in reality, solar-farms are already spreading like wildfire in North Carolina, so Apple is just going with the flow.

Funny place, North Carolina. I'm never too sad to get back across the line into Georgia.

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