Apple Continues North Carolina Expansion

Apple Inc., the tech giant from California, has made yet another move to expand its North Carolina operations.

By Eliza Theiss, Associate Editor

Apple Inc., the tech giant from California, has made yet another move to expand its North Carolina operations. According to the Hickory Daily Record, the tech company has purchased 200 acres in Conover, Catawba County for $3 million. Apple plans to build another solar farm on the land in a bid to ensure clean, independent, locally produced energy for its Maiden data center.

The 200 acres are a mix of farmland and residential properties. More importantly, the land is double the size of that which Apple initially announced it would be purchasing, leading many to wonder and speculate what the extra 100 acres will be used for.

According to the initial plans posted on the company’s website, “a 100-acre site located a few away miles [from the Maiden data center] will produce another 42 million kWh.” Additionally, the other solar farm built on the 100 acres next to the 500,000-square-foot Maiden data center is almost finished, according to Wired. The solar plant is expected to have an annual energy output of 42 million kilowatt-hours (kWh).

Added up, the two solar installations will produce 84 million kWh of locally generated renewable energy, functioning on a system of high-efficiency solar cells and advanced solar tracking technology. Also, a 5-megawatt bio-gas-powered fuel cell installation, also owned by Apple, is expected to become operational by the end of the year. Combined, the three systems will produce enough energy (124 million kWh) to power 10,874 homes, enough to cover 60 percent of the data center’s energy consumption.

The rest of the energy needed to power the Maiden facility will be purchased from local and regional renewable, clean sources, thus encouraging local investment in such sources.

These projects will make the Maiden data center the most environmentally friendly and sustainable data center ever built, as well the largest private solar array and non-utility fuel cell system in the U.S. It’s the first data center of this scale to earn LEED Platinum certification.

Other green features of the Maiden facility include a white cool-roof providing maximum solar reflectivity, high-efficiency LED lighting paired with motion sensors, a chilled water storage system that transfers energy consumption from peak to off-peak hours and the use of outside air cooling through a waterside economizer operation during night and cool-weather hours, resulting in the chillers operating only 25 percent of the time.

14 percent of construction materials were recycled materials, and 41 percent of materials were sourced from within a 500-mile radius. Additionally, only 7 percent of the construction waste ended up in landfills.

The Maiden data center is essential for Apple’s iCloud services.

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