One of the major benefits of being one of the largest (and the richest) companies in the world is economies of scale. Apple can do things big when it does things and it has now revealed plans to build America’s largest private solar energy farm.
The farm will cover 100 acres of North Carolina, and produce enough power to supply thousands of homes. Apple will use the green energy to power its huge data centre where the servers for iTunes and iCloud services are held. When completed the 20-megawatt facility will supply 42 million kWh of energy annually, it is expected to cost hundreds of millions of dollars to construct – a drop in the ocean for a company as rich as Apple.
‘Our goal is to run the Maiden facility with high percentage renewable energy mix, and we have major projects under way to achieve this – including building the nation’s largest end user-owned solar array and building the largest non-utility fuel cell installation in the United States,’
Apple has in recent months has come under increased criticism for working practices at its production facilities, so some ‘greening’ can only help – although in reality it is already far greener than most of its competitors;
- It has reduced carbon emissions on a number of its products, most notably the Apple TV set-top box – from 2007 to 2011, carbon emissions with the Apple TV were reduced by 90 per cent.
- The iMac has also seen a 50 per cent reduction from 1998 to 2011, while the Mac mini has dropped 52 per cent.
- Apple has also reduced the packaging associated with the iPhone by 42 per cent from 2007 to 2011. That allows the company to ship 80 per cent more boxes in each airline shipping container, saving one 747 flight for every 371,250 boxes Apple ships – and when you consider they shipped 37 million in the first quarter of 2012 that makes a big difference!
However, Apple’s solar site is still dwarfed by the world’s largest array, Golmud Solar Park in China, which produces 200MW of power. Apple may have to play second fiddle on this one!