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How Green

Apple owns biggest private solar power system in US

  • Apple solar array.jpg

    Apple has built the nations largest end user-owned, onsite solar array to supply power to its Maiden, N.C., data center. (Apple)

  • Apple fuel cell array.jpg

    Apple's 10-MW fuel cell installation using directed biogas is the largest non-utility fuel cell installation operating anywhere in the country, the company claims. (Apple)

  • Apple green power Maiden data cente.jpg

    Apple's data center in Maiden, N.C., has earned the coveted LEED Platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, the company said. (Apple)

  • apple website clean energy.jpg

    A screenshot of Apple's website, where the company announced it had dramatically ramped up the use of renewable energy. ( / Apple)

Forget red apples. These Apples are green.

The iPhone maker announced on Friday that fully 75 percent of its corporate facilities and data centers are powered by energy from renewable sources, including solar, wind, hydro and geothermal power. That’s because Apple has built the nation’s largest privately owned solar array for its Maiden, N.C., data center.

“In 2012, we completed construction on the nation’s largest end user–owned, onsite solar photovoltaic array on land surrounding the data center,” the company disclosed on Friday, announcing plans to shoot for 100 percent renewable power sources.  The 100-acre, 20-megawatt facility can produce 42 million kWh of renewable energy each year, Apple said.

“And we’re currently building a second 20-MW solar photovoltaic facility on nearby land that should be operational in late 2013.”

Apple also operates a 10-MW fuel cell installation at Maiden, which uses biogas to create 83 million kWh of energy -- it’s the largest such facility not operated by a power company in the country, the company claimed.

Greenpeace International senior IT analyst Gary Cook applauded the company for how far it has come, while also noting the challenges still ahead.

“Apple’s announcement shows that it has made real progress in its commitment to lead the way to a clean energy future,” Cook said.

“Apple still has major roadblocks to meeting its 100 percent clean energy commitment in North Carolina, where renewable energy policies are under siege and electric utility Duke Energy is intent on blocking wind and solar energy from entering the grid,” he added.

Apple said its goal was not just for North Carolina but for facilities across the country and around the world.

“We won’t stop working until we achieve 100 percent throughout Apple,” the company said.