Apple to build their third giant solar farm  

Claremont, North Carolina with soon be home for Apple’s third solar farm. Apple and the city council of Claremont reached agreement on Monday that saw the tech giant purchase 100 acres to accommodate the 17.5 megawatt solar farm, and overall investment of $55 million.

Accompanying their existing and soon to be completed 40 Mwh solar capacity, the additional energy will be harnessed by Apple’s massive iCloud data center, the central nervous system for user’s emails, backups and app data.

Lisa Jackson, Apple’s VP of Environmental Initiatives, noted that, “Cupertino’s data centers are run off 100 percent renewable sources like solar and biogas, as is the case with 94 percent of Apple’s corporate structures.”

Apple’s investment will generate 75 indirect jobs during construction that will be sourced locally as part of their agreement with the council. Further solar plants are in development near their data center in Nevada.

State laws require the output of the solar farm to be exported to the grid, however this allows the data center to withdraw from the grid throughout the day and night without relying purely on the solar plant.

Apple has made a push in recent years to reduce their environmental impact including constructing their devices using recyclable materials and removing a number of harmful chemicals from their manufacturing such as Mercury, Lead, Phthalate and BFR plastics.

Inspection of previous solar farms operated by Apple show them to be meticulously maintained, right down to the importing of sheep to sequentially eat the grass underneath the solar arrays.

Major tech competitor Google has made some efforts to embrace renewable energy by purchasing wind power from generators near their data centres, and although they are a long way behind, have installed a 1.9 megawatt solar system at their Mountain View campus.

Microsoft also uses a number of methods to reduce its environmental impact, including investment in solar, wind and biogas projects, energy efficiency and carbon offsets. Solar power systems at their Silicon Valley campus provides 15% of their energy needs.

Perhaps Apple’s sustainability profile will make environmentally conscious consumers think twice before switching to a competitor when updating their next phone, tablet or personal computer.