100% for data centersApple has released its environmental report and, among other interesting things, it now states that is uses 100% renewable energy for its data centers and 75% for its needs overall, up from 35% in 2010. The end goal is 100% renewable energy use for all of the company's energy needs. Its likely that not all that clean energy will not be produced on site, Apple won't turn into a energy utility company, but the equivalent amount would be purchased from other sources and used on the grid, so the end result would be the same (energy is fungible, after all).
Of particular interest is the Maiden, North Carolina, data center (which mostly hosts iCloud stuff). It was designed from the ground up to be very energy efficiency and has earned LEED Platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.
Energy-efficient design elements at Maiden data center
- 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
- 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
- Extreme precision in managing cooling distribution for cold air containment pods with variable-speed fans controlled to exactly match airflow-to-server requirements from moment to moment
- Power distributed at higher voltages, which increases efficiency by reducing power loss
- White cool-roof design to provide maximum solar reflectivity
- High-efficiency LED lighting combined with motion sensors
- Real-time power monitoring and analytics during operations
- Construction processes that utilized 14 percent recycled materials, diverted 93 percent of construction waste from landfills, and sourced 41 percent of purchased materials within 500 miles of the site
To really see the scale, check out this flyover video:
In 2012, we completed construction on the nation’s largest end user–owned, onsite solar photovoltaic array on land surrounding the data center. This 100-acre, 20-megawatt (MW) facility has an annual production capacity of 42 million kWh of clean, low-carbon, renewable energy. And we’re currently building a second 20-MW solar photovoltaic facility on nearby land that should be operational in late 2013. In addition, we’ve built an onsite 10-MW fuel cell installation that uses directed biogas and provides more than 83 million kWh of 24/7 baseload renewable energy annually — it’s the largest non-utility fuel cell installation operating anywhere in the country. All told, Apple will be producing enough onsite renewable energy — 167 million kWh — to power the equivalent of 17,600 homes for one year.* These power sources are connected to the local energy grid and not only displace other dirtier forms of electricity that otherwise would have been used, but their environmental benefits are used only by Apple and are in addition to any locally mandated renewable energy requirements. (source)
The company also operates 1,600 biodiesel-powered buses and shuttles and a bike-sharing program, among other green initiatives. You can dig into the details here. It has certainly been improving in most areas over the past few years. Nice work Apple, keep going.