An Apple data center in Prineville, Ore. (Photo: Jordan Novet)

Apple Buys Hydro Power Facility Near Prineville Data Center

Apple has acquired a hydroelectric power facility not far from its data center in Prineville, Oregon, according to reports in local media. The deal could provide additional renewable energy for the Apple server farm, continuing the company’s effort to improve the sustainability of its data center operations.

The 45 Mile Hydroelectric Plant had been under development by EBD Hydro. But in December, the project was transferred to Apple, according to reports in the Bend Bulletin and Oregon Live.

Initial estimates projected that the 45 Mile Hydroelectric plant would generate between 3 and 5 megawatts of power. That’s not very much for a large data center user like Apple, which could require 30 to 40 megawatts of power to support its campus at full capacity. It’s not clear whether an operator with Apple’s resources could boost that output.

Apple has committed to supporting 100 percent of its energy use in Prineville with renewable resources, and is approaching its goal in several ways, including the purchase of non-coal power. “Oregon allows the direct wholesale purchase of renewable energy through Direct Access, and Apple is using this program to opt out of the default grid mix and directly access enough local renewable wind energy to power the entire facility,” the company says, adding that it “actively working on other renewable energy options.”

The Prineville campus is part of a major expansion of Apple’s data center capacity that began with the opening of a 500,000 square foot data center in Maiden, North Carolina in 2010. The company is building new server farms in Prineville and Reno, Nevada and rumored to be planning more in Hong Kong and perhaps Europe as well.

The hydro project is located at a concrete drop structure of the North Unit Irrigation District’s main irrigation canal in Jefferson County, Oregon. The design calls for the facility to divert water out of the canal for approximately half a mile before running it through a hydroelectric turbine and discharging it back into the canal.

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About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor at large of Data Center Knowledge, and has been reporting on the data center sector since 2000. He has tracked the growing impact of high-density computing on the power and cooling of data centers, and the resulting push for improved energy efficiency in these facilities.

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