Apple is reportedly building a solar farm to provide energy for its North Carolina data center. An erosion permit granted by Catawba County, North Carolina gives Apple permission to transform 171 acres of vacant land across from the data center into a solar farm. The area will be resloped and will include multiple gravel roads that provide access to the solar panels. It's the first step in a larger plan called Project Dolphin Solar Farm A Expanded. Project Dolphin is the codename given to the construction project behind Apple's billion dollar data center.
The constucton is in the early stages of planning and very little in known about the farm. Scott Millar, president of the Catawba County Economic Development Corp. and the man who helped bring Apple to the area, was not aware of the solar farm plans. He did not know Apple filed for a permit until the Charlotte Observer brought it to his attention and said he has had "no communication" with Apple about these plans. A building permit which would contain construction details has not been filed.
The only people aware of the solar farm are neighbors of the data center who are complaining about smoke from the property. Apple is burning the field to clear it and, according to residents, is producing a thick smoke that blankets the surrounding area. The burning is also driving animals out of their habitat. "I had a snake on my steps," says local resident Zelda Vosburgh, "I've seen rabbits and squirrels everywhere."
It's an eco-friendly move for Apple, but don't expect to be able to say the iSun is powering your iCloud anytime soon. Most of this solar power will likely go to the office part of the building, and won't be used to power the servers. Modest estimates suggest the 170 acre solar farm would generate about 24 megawatts of power, which is far below the 40 to 100 megawatts Apple's datacenter is estimated to use.
[Via DataCenter Knowledge and The Hickory Record]