Apple New Data Centre to Sport Largest Solar Panel Array

February 22, 2012 / No Comments

To satisfy the huge power needs of their facility in an environmentally acceptable way, Apple is building the largest end user–owned, onsite solar array in the US. The 100-acre, 20-megawatt facility will supply 42 million kWh of clean, renewable energy every year. Apple is also building a 5-megawatt fuel cell installation, due to go online later in 2012. This installation will be the largest non-utility fuel cell installation operating anywhere in the US.

apple solar data center Apple New Data Centre to Sport Largest Solar Panel Array

The innovations at the data center do not end there. Energy-efficient design elements of the maiden facility include a chilled water storage system to improve chiller efficiency by transferring 10,400 kWh of electricity consumption from peak to off-peak hours each day. The facility also makes use of free outside air cooling through a waterside economizer operation during night and cool-weather hours, which, along with water storage, allows the chillers to be turned off more than 75 percent of the time.

A white cool-roof design is used wherever possible so as to provide maximum solar reflectivity. High-efficiency LED lighting, combined with motion sensors, optimizes power output every time along with real-time power monitoring and analytics done during operations.

Construction processes utilize 14% of recycled materials and divert 93% of construction waste from landfills and source 41 percent of purchased materials within 500 miles of the site.

Apple also claims they have significantly reduced the environmental impact of home-to-work travel over the years by implementing commuter transit programs. Water usage per employee has also been significantly reduced over the past couple of years, as was the amount of solid waste per employee.

Apple’s need for data centers will bump up as it makes a significant shift into the cloud and produces more data intensive products such as Apple TV, Siri and cross-device gaming. The Maiden North Carolina data centre will be Apple’s fifth main data center supplementing facilities in Cork, Munich, California and the already existing one in North Carolina.