Apple data center to run on renewable energy by 2013

Apple has announced that its North Carolina data center will be powered entirely by renewable energy sources by the end of 2012.

On Thurdsay, Apple announced its environmentally friendly plans on its website, and revealed that its Maiden, North Carolina data centre will have 60 per cent of its power produced on site from renewable sources. The other 40 per cent will be purchased from local and regional renewable sources.

Greenpeace infiltrated Apple’s Cupertino campus this week, projecting messages from Twitter and Facebook users who are dismayed at Apple’s use of coal at the data centre that powers its iCloud sources.

“Apple’s announcement today is a great sign that Apple is taking seriously the hundreds of thousands of its customers who have asked for an iCloud powered by clean energy, not dirty coal,” said Greenpeace International Senior IT Analyst Gary Cook. “Apple’s doubling of its solar capacity and investment in local renewable energy are key steps to creating a cleaner iCloud.”

“Greenpeace will continue to campaign to push Apple – and other IT giants like Microsoft and Amazon – to clean the cloud until Apple has policies to ensure that as Apple’s North Carolina data centre and others continue to grow, they will grow using exclusively clean energy,” said Cook. “To garuntee that, Apple must adopt a firm siting policy to prioritize renewable energy when it chooses locations for new data centres. Only then will customers have confidence that the iCloud will continue to get cleaner as it grows.”

Apple is building the largest non-utility fuel cell installation in the US, and the nation’s largest private solar arrays, in order to provide the green energy, said the company.

Businessweek reports that CFO at Apple, Peter Oppenheimer, said in an interview: “We are leading the industry. All three of our data centres will be coal free, which is an industry first for anybody our size.”

Oppenheimer said that Apple’s plans have been in place since last year, and wouldn’t comment on whether the changes were made following Greenpeace’s recent protests.

In April 2011, Greenpeace slammed Apple’s Maiden data centre in its How Dirty is your Data report.

Recently, Greenpeace has protested across the globe. In April, the environmental organisation covered Apple’s Regent Street Store windows with its own poster to highlight Apple’s use of coal, and protested outside Apple’s Ireland HQ.