In the wake of pressure from the environmental group Greenpeace, Apple said Thursday that it has achieved 100 percent renewable energy at all of its data centers, including facilities in North Carolina, Oregon, California and Nevada. The company also is using renewables to support office facilities in Austin, Elk Grove, Cork, and Munich, and its Infinite Loop campus at Cupertino.
The road to renewable was a formidable one. Apple doubled the size of an already huge solar array in North Carolina, buying another 100 acres of land to support the expansion. The two separate 100-acre solar arrays in Maiden, N.C. each produce 42 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of energy annually. Apple also uses biogas from nearby landfills to power Bloom Energy Server fuel cells at its Maiden site.
Although it’s been secretive about the project, the company has been vocal in its plans to use renewable power exclusively for its new data center in Prineville, Oregon. That energy will come from a mix of sources, such as wind, hydro, solar and geothermal power.
Facebook also has data center nearby in Prineville that uses an evaporative cooling system in combination with the natural moderate climate to save on energy costs. Facebook initially faced heat from Greenpeace over using energy from PacifiCorp, which is derived largely from coal.
Gary Cook, senior IT analyst at Greenpeace called Apple out at an Uptime Symposium saying that it and Facebook should “wield (its) power to alter the energy paradigm.” Apple has since stepped up in a big way. Since 2010, it has achieved a 114 percent increase in the usage of renewable energy at corporate facilities worldwide, up to 70 percent overall from 35 percent.
“Apple’s announcement shows that it has made real progress in its commitment to lead the way to a clean energy future,” Cook said in a statement Thursday. “Apple’s increased level of disclosure about its energy sources helps customers know that their iCloud will be powered by clean energy sources, not coal.”
Cook insisted that Apple “still has major roadblocks” to meeting its 100 % clean energy commitment in North Carolina, where he said electric utility Duke Energy “is intent on blocking wind and solar energy from entering the grid.” Greenpeace called on Apple to disclose more details on its plans for using renewable resources in all its data centers.
See Apple’s environmental impact statement for details of its announcement.