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Apple Commits To 100% Renewable Energy Sources for NC Data Center

Unknown Lamer posted more than 2 years ago | from the hippie-fired-power-plant dept.

Earth 108

judgecorp writes "Stung by continued criticism from Greenpeace and protests at Apple's headquarters over its use of electricity from non-renewable sources, Apple has promised that its data center in Maiden, North Carolina will use 100 percent renewable electricity, 60 percent of it generated by Apple itself. The update is possible because it is building a second giant solar array, and because its data center only needs 20MW at full capacity, instead of the 100MW which Greenpeace had estimated."

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But... (2, Insightful)

biodata (1981610) | more than 2 years ago | (#40051311)

is the solar array built using renewable energy?

Re:But... (3, Funny)

ifwm (687373) | more than 2 years ago | (#40051333)

It's coal and oil all the way down...

Re:But... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40051343)

trolololol

Re:But... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40051369)

Good point, we'd best use this solar array to power the construction of more solar arrays!

Re:But... (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#40051765)

If solar power does become a lot cheaper than other sources of power, then yes, it would make sense to power construction of solar arrays with solar arrays. It is an interesting form of technology bootstrapping and it would give the manufacturer a valuable testing ground.

Re:But... (4, Funny)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 2 years ago | (#40051415)

Yes, the Chinese work force who built the solar panels is quite renewable.

Re:But... (4, Insightful)

MtHuurne (602934) | more than 2 years ago | (#40051515)

The array will produce far more energy during its lifetime than was used to produce and install it. So while it would be nice if it was built with renewable energy, it's not all that important.

Re:But... (1, Redundant)

biodata (1981610) | more than 2 years ago | (#40051621)

That's good to hear, but unless it generates more energy than the plant needs, to the point where it exceeds the plant's requirements by enough to recover the energy used to make it, then it undermines the claim that the plant uses 100% renewable energy.

Re:But... (1)

MtHuurne (602934) | more than 2 years ago | (#40051925)

They probably mean 100% renewable energy during operation, excluding construction.

Re:But... (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 2 years ago | (#40052899)

That's good to hear, but unless it generates more energy than the plant needs, to the point where it exceeds the plant's requirements by enough to recover the energy used to make it

It probably will. If they intend to be 100% renewable; there must be some spare capacity to cope with upgrades and peak usage.

They presumably also need backup power sources, such as a grid backup, or emergency generators.

So to be "100% renewable" they'll need to estimate their annual usage of that, to make sure they will generate the amount of extra power to recover that.

Re:But... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40051623)

The array will produce far more energy during its lifetime than was used to produce and install it

{citation needed}

Re:But... (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#40051745)

Come on. This is old news [lmgtfy.com] . If you take a look at the links above, you'll see that energy payback time, even for a roof top installation (with all the gear and labor) is on the order of a few years for a system that can last a couple of decades.

Re:But... (5, Informative)

MtHuurne (602934) | more than 2 years ago | (#40051891)

I might be feeding a troll here, but I did a quick search and found this [csudh.edu] . Depending on the type of cell and the manufacturing process and where the panels will be deployed, somewhere between 1 and 3 years, while panels typically come with a 20 year warranty and will likely last 30 to 40 years. That study is from 2000, manufacturing may have become more efficient since then.

Re:But... (1)

Xest (935314) | more than 2 years ago | (#40053519)

Someone I know paid for his own panels as he runs a tropical plant nursery here in the UK, so similarly needs a fair bit of power to heat it during the winter. The warranty on his panels was 20 years, but he said the folks providing it seemed pretty honest and were fairly confident they'd last as long as 60 years.

It's worth noting that to have confidence in a product lasting 20 years without fault means that you have to have a low chance of that product failing in or close to that period else it becomes economically unfeasible to provide that kind of warranty. A 3-fold actual life time on most panels seems a reasonable margin to ensure you don't really lose out by offering a 20 year warranty on the product. As you say also if this study was from 2000, we're now 12 years on, so it's also not suprising that newer panels could last as long as 60 years if the technology has improved.

Re:But... (3, Interesting)

niftydude (1745144) | more than 2 years ago | (#40051905)

The array will produce far more energy during its lifetime than was used to produce and install it.

I wouldn't say far more.

It takes about 10 years for a typical silicon solar cell to generate the amount of energy that was used in the cell's production. The typical lifetime of the cell is about 25 years. So these types of cells only produce about 2.5 times as much energy as was needed for its production.

There are other solar cells such as organics that take less energy to produce, but because they have a much shorter lifespan, they aren't that much better from this point of view, and they don't get used in large arrays like this one.

The upshot is that the situation with solar cells is not yet as good as we would like it to be, and I don't think that we should be recommending large uptake of solar cells as a truly environmental solution until there is an large improvement in energy required to energy produced ratio.

Re:But... (2, Insightful)

AmiMoJo (196126) | more than 2 years ago | (#40052599)

The upshot is that the situation with solar cells is not yet as good as we would like it to be, and I don't think that we should be recommending large uptake of solar cells as a truly environmental solution until there is an large improvement in energy required to energy produced ratio.

2.5 times as much generated as put into production is still infinitely better than "burn a load of coal" or "produce a load of nuclear waste". It is a net gain, and drives investment and improvement in the technology. We should encourage it as much as possible.

Re:But... (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 2 years ago | (#40052923)

2.5 times as much generated as put into production is still infinitely better than "burn a load of coal" or "produce a load of nuclear waste".

"Load of Nuclear waste" is an artificial thing created by the ban against recycling nuclear wastes, out of concern that the plutonium produced by said recycling might fall into the wrong hands.

Nuclear power generation properly implemented is much more efficient than either Coal fired plants, OR manufacture of solar cells, and produces only Tiny amounts of waste, which can (and must) be 100% contained; whereas the manufacturing process and the burning of Coal EACH produce massive amounts of highly toxic waste, in the form of heavy metals, MOST of which are released directly into the air.

Re:But... (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 2 years ago | (#40052309)

Otherwise known as EROEI, or Energy Returned On Energy Invested:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_returned_on_energy_invested [wikipedia.org]

Re:But... (1)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 2 years ago | (#40052667)

EROEI sounds suspiciously close to Eloi... I'm just saying...

Re:But... (3, Funny)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | more than 2 years ago | (#40051533)

is the solar array built using renewable energy?

No, but it IS being constructed by highly-paid union dolphins, so Greenpeace is fine with that.

Re:But... (3, Insightful)

SolusSD (680489) | more than 2 years ago | (#40051811)

would it be better to consume coal energy for the life of the datacenter, or spend a bit of (possibly dirty) energy to build renewable alternatives?

You mean Greenpeace lied? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40051313)

I'm SHOCKED!

Re:You mean Greenpeace lied? (4, Insightful)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#40051351)

We really need to stop giving Greenpeace press. They just make things worse.
I am for more environmental conscious companies. However Greenpeace with its lies and over exaggerations, make it seem companies who are trying to do the right thing are doing nearly enough, or give estimates that a company knows it cannot meet, so may just scrap the whole idea. or because they are being called the environmental bad guys even when they did the good thing, they will not try to improve their press relations much on that topic.
 

Re:You mean Greenpeace lied? (2)

geekmux (1040042) | more than 2 years ago | (#40051395)

We really need to stop giving Greenpeace press. They just make things worse. I am for more environmental conscious companies. However Greenpeace with its lies and over exaggerations, make it seem companies who are trying to do the right thing are doing nearly enough, or give estimates that a company knows it cannot meet, so may just scrap the whole idea. or because they are being called the environmental bad guys even when they did the good thing, they will not try to improve their press relations much on that topic.

I'll take 10 Greenpeace Orgs any day over the utter stupidity surrounding global warming. Greenpeace looks as tame as a cat lovers convention by comparison.

Re:You mean Greenpeace lied? (1)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 2 years ago | (#40051971)

I'll take 10 Greenpeace Orgs any day over the utter stupidity surrounding global warming. Greenpeace looks as tame as a cat lovers convention by comparison.

Really? Before or after they decided they want everyone to go back to the darkages to live? Well they're not as bad as David Suzuki, but still pretty bad.

Re:You mean Greenpeace lied? (2)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 2 years ago | (#40052323)

And that whole dark ages thing, you get that from where? Argument by anal extraction? Well, straw-men are carbon-neutral...

Re:You mean Greenpeace lied? (1)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 2 years ago | (#40055535)

And that whole dark ages thing, you get that from where? Argument by anal extraction? Well, straw-men are carbon-neutral...

From science [smithsonianmag.com] , from their own mouths, [dailymail.co.uk] and from what, how and in the ways they act. [akdart.com] Don't worry if reality has to kick you in the chops every now and then.

Re:You mean Greenpeace lied? (1)

Crosshair84 (2598247) | more than 2 years ago | (#40051443)

Exactly. Greenpeace achieved its goals decades ago. They used to be all about taking reasonable and cost-effective measures to reduce pollution. After years of campaigning they managed to convince the majority of people that those goals were worth of pursuing.

Now, how does your organization remain confrontational and relevant when everyone already agrees with you? You have to adopt ever more extreme and absurd positions. It is around this time that Patrick Moore, one of Greenpeace's founders, left the organization because it had been taken over by loons and, after the wall fell, by Marxists. (Often called watermelons: Green on the outside, Red on the inside.)

Patrick Moore talk about Greenpeace
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VMRUOSlQJ9A [youtube.com]

Greenpeace, MADD, and other such organizations are irrelevant in today's world. They won, game over, move onto something else.

Re:You mean Greenpeace lied? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40054767)

Greenpeace achieved its goals decades ago.

Greenpeace was never an environmentalist organization. Its sole purpose has always been guilt-peddling for money. The standard procedure is to get their paid "protestors" to make a lot of noise, hopefully embarrassing the target of their harassment enough to pay them to get lost. They tried it with Steve Jobs, and he sent them packing. They're trying it with Tim Cook, and I expect he'll do exactly the same thing.

Anyone who cares about conservation should support the nature conservancy, ducks unlimited, the sierra club, or best of all, your LOCAL environmental organizations. All Greenpeace does is suck up your money to spend on promoting themselves.

Re:You mean Greenpeace lied? (1)

arth1 (260657) | more than 2 years ago | (#40056129)

Anyone who cares about conservation should support the nature conservancy, ducks unlimited, the sierra club, or best of all, your LOCAL environmental organizations.

I have to betray my ignorance here. Ducks Unlimited sounds like a rather kinky thing, and I thought the Sierra Club was for Ford owners?

As for acting locally, yes, but that isn't enough. We need global initiatives too - the inhabitants of the poles aren't going to preserve them locally. But not Greenpeace, no. With their emotional spiel they're untrustworthy. Go to a serious organization that works with governments and people, and not against them.

Re:You mean Greenpeace lied? (1)

jellomizer (103300) | about 2 years ago | (#40056463)

Well any pollution that is happening will happen local to someone. If there are strong local environmental groups globally then then there will be better protection globally. These global institutions are ineffective and stupid, they will let some things slides and others that don't mean anything go threw. With local stuff things like this will happen however their effect will be minimized as multiple groups each with a different set of priorities.

Re:You mean Greenpeace lied? (1)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 2 years ago | (#40054895)

I'm glad you mentioned MADD. IT achieved its goals back in the 1980s (the laws in place, but it took another 10 years for the public opinion to change). And so they went after .05 and such, so that cell phones are more dangerous than "drunk", and the organization has been taken over by a bunch of prohibitionists who want to outlaw alcohol, and use "think of the kids" as the excuse.

Re:You mean Greenpeace lied? (2, Interesting)

Jeremi (14640) | more than 2 years ago | (#40051467)

We really need to stop giving Greenpeace press. They just make things worse.

Unless you think that getting Apple to move to 100% renewable power is making things worse, it's hard to see how you arrived at the above conclusion from this article. It seems to me that this was a win all around.

Re:You mean Greenpeace lied? (3, Insightful)

gnasher719 (869701) | more than 2 years ago | (#40051561)

Unless you think that getting Apple to move to 100% renewable power is making things worse, it's hard to see how you arrived at the above conclusion from this article. It seems to me that this was a win all around.

Do you really, really think that Apple would do anything because of Greenpeace? Greenpeace has been attacking Apple for years, after Apple refused to donate money to the worthy cause. And again and again their attacks have been proven to be completely clueless.

If Apple is using 100% renewable power for some data centre, then the only reason for that is that they planned to do exactly that from the start.

Re:You mean Greenpeace lied? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40052051)

Yes, I do think Apple did things because of Greenpeace. But they aren't reacting to Greenpeace.

Greenpeace is stupid and predictable. Apple had to have known how they would react since, as you note, they've been attacked by Greenpeace for years. Apple simply planned ahead. This was a win on every front for Apple and makes Greenpeace look stupid (not that they need help with that).

This is exactly what I would do to discredit a critic if I were Apple.

Re:You mean Greenpeace lied? (1)

data2 (1382587) | more than 2 years ago | (#40053223)

While it might not be the case in the US, Greenpeace is highly respected in many parts of the world, so the danger to image is real.

Also, Greenpeace would never accept money from Apple as it is a corporation.

Re:You mean Greenpeace lied? (2)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 2 years ago | (#40053319)

Also, Greenpeace would never accept money from Apple as it is a corporation.

I know that Greenpeace says that they will not accept money from corporations, but they do not reveal where their money actually comes from, so we only have their word for that.

Re:You mean Greenpeace lied? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40054787)

Greenpeace would never accept money from Apple as it is a corporation.

Bullshit. They tried to shake Apple down, Steve told them to fuck off.

Re:You mean Greenpeace lied? (4, Insightful)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 2 years ago | (#40051987)

Greenpeace didn't "get" Apple to do that though, Apple were doing that anyway.

Greenpeace just came along and accused them of lying about the numbers, then when Apple put out a press release gently correcting them, and also talking about a second data centre also targeted to be powered fully by renewable, Greenpeace can now sweep in and claim all the credit for "keeping Apple honest" and "making big companies think about being green" when really they were doing it anyway.

Much like the very low score Greenpeace gave Apple on their "greenness" chart thing (and much lower than other companies that were nowhere near as green as Apple) because they simply hadn't done the research. For example, HP scoring big green points for making a plan to decide on when to remove BFRs from their products, and Apple scoring very low for no plan... but they'd already eliminated use of BFRs in their products 2 years before. And the same with reduced use of lead, and expanded polystyrene, and PVC in cables etc. Then when Apple releases a press release all about this, Greenpeace claim that they are the ones making Apple behave responsibly.

Greenpeace are doing more to hurt the green cause than helping it. There's only so many times you can be a dick - like soliciting donations that will directly fun criminal damage - before people start getting turned off the message, which is the last thing we want.

I'm as pro-green as they come - my future doctoral work will be into sustainable energy and catalytic water splitting etc - but I want absolutely nothing to do with Greenpeace. They do not represent me.

The awful, awful loss. (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 2 years ago | (#40055053)

Unless you think that getting Apple to move to 100% renewable power is making things worse, it's hard to see how you arrived at the above conclusion from this article. It seems to me that this was a win all around.

You think it's win/win.

Yet everything is as it was. Apple as noted was already going the solar path. So Greenpeace wasted YOUR money in an effort to get Apple doing something that was happening already.

Furthermore my people like you declaring "win" it takes all the heat off every other company to do anything. After all, you had a "victory", you can all rest now.

Instead your money could have gone to Greenpeace looking at a company like Dell or Sony and pushing them into more renewable energy use. But that's not as sexy.

So it was not a win at all, it was nothing. The world is no better because of Greenpeace and in fact worse because of the opportunity cost.

Re:You mean Greenpeace lied? (0)

Crosshair84 (2598247) | more than 2 years ago | (#40055173)

Unless you think that getting Apple to move to 100% renewable power is making things worse,

Green power besides hydro and nuclear is more expensive than fossil fuels. That higher price is the market telling you that it takes more resources to use "X" source of power than "Y". By using more resources you are doing more damage to the environment than by using the cheaper source of fuel that uses less resources.

Re:You mean Greenpeace lied? (1)

Xest (935314) | more than 2 years ago | (#40055907)

The problem with Greenpeace is that it doesn't always lie.

It was quite right regarding the whales, and has been quite succesful as a result.

Obviously on nuclear it's almost entirely wrong though.

But I disagree that we should stop listening to them because a) it means there's a counterbalance to the massive fossil fuel lobby that due to their past successes, people listen to, and b) I don't think most companies are doing nearly enough, most carbon neutral schemes are actually complete bollocks and don't actually result in a reasonable amount of carbon neutrality, and do we even definitely know that Greenpeace did lie in this case? or are we supposedly meant to trust Apple (whose now deceased CEO was famous for outright lying to the world)?

Look at jo_ham's retarded post below in the discussion "Apple put out a press release gently correcting them", oh well, if Apple put out a press release then obviously it's true. If you read TFA then Greenpeace made an estime of 100 MW sure, but even Amazon queried their 20 MW value and believed it would be at least 78 MW - I fail to believe someone with as much data centre experience with Amazon would come up with an estimate 4x too high.

Still, fanboys will believe what fanboys believe - Apple releases a press release and it's obviously completely true, and would never be an attempt at saving face.

Really, reading TFA the only evidence that Apple's new datacentre will only use 20 MW is Apple's say so? Sorry, but I'd rather trust Amazon and Greenpeaces's estimate than blindly swallow anything the company at the centre of the criticism has to say. If it was just Apple vs. Greenpeace then sure you'd have two polar opposites, but Amazon is relatively neutral in this because is itself wouldn't want to get tangled up unnecessarily in data centre controversy when it owns so many so that adds sway to Greenpeaces argument somewhat. The Amazon article is far more interesting than the PR piece in the summary:

http://www.techweekeurope.co.uk/news/amazon-queries-facebook-apple-sola-69713 [techweekeurope.co.uk]

Or the original blog:

http://perspectives.mvdirona.com/2012/03/17/ILoveSolarPowerBut.aspx [mvdirona.com]

171 acres of trees are being cleared for Apple's solar array.

So in this case it seems perhaps the real problem is immediately assuming Greenpeace is lying and Apple is right based on nothing more than an Apple press release.

Re:You mean Greenpeace lied? (1)

jellomizer (103300) | about 2 years ago | (#40056481)

If an organization lies half the time and tells the truth the other half. You really shouldn't listen to them because you never know if it is a lie or not.
There are other organizations out there that are more honest. Listen to them... They may say the same thing as Greenpeace or they may say something else. Listening to them empowers them, and then they talk more with more 50% lies and 50% truth, confusing the general public and giving the GOP excuses to make the Liberals seem out of touch and just a bunch of corrupt idiots.

Re:You mean Greenpeace lied? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40053599)

It's because Greenpeace is like Yelp. You play nice with them, or bad things happen. They want sponsorships with the companies to survive, and Apple won't fork over any donations to them. So, they get nitpicked by GP every chance they get. I stopped paying attention to Greenpeace ages ago because of this.

I guess the walled garden... (1, Funny)

schitso (2541028) | more than 2 years ago | (#40051341)

...couldn't keep the environmentalists out.

(I'm so sorry.)

Re:I guess the walled garden... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40053611)

It sure didn't take long for the shills to come out!

Lesson learned (0)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 2 years ago | (#40051355)

If you protest you get your way, even when it doesn't make fiscal sense.

Great lesson.

Re:Lesson learned (2)

bakuun (976228) | more than 2 years ago | (#40051399)

If you protest you get your way, even when it doesn't make fiscal sense.

Fiscal sense is not the only type of sense worth pursuing.

Re:Lesson learned (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40051551)

Indeed, fiscally a lot of things make no sense. But they are often right.

Re:Lesson learned (0)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 2 years ago | (#40051563)

It is if you want to grow your business. Screw the 'greenies'.

Re:Lesson learned (3, Funny)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 2 years ago | (#40052333)

You mean "screw your neighbours and the future generation, I waaaaaant profit now, mum!!! WAAAAH!". Thankfully, most people exceed that maturity level by age of 6 or so.

Re:Lesson learned (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 2 years ago | (#40052539)

No, that isn't what i said. If you are capable, re-read my post and you will see i said something far different.

Re:Lesson learned (0)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 2 years ago | (#40053357)

No, that isn't what i said. If you are capable, re-read my post and you will see i said something far different

... and stupider.

Re:Lesson learned (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 2 years ago | (#40053691)

Go hug that tree and leave us adults be.

Re:Lesson learned (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 2 years ago | (#40054363)

You're getting stupider by the minute.

Re:Lesson learned (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40054469)

Your comments are going downhill. I suggest you stop sucking on the tailpipe so much.

Re:Lesson learned (1)

nurb432 (527695) | about 2 years ago | (#40056869)

*yawn*

How about you get out of the way before the industrialists roll over you. "Green" is not the future, no more than it was the past.

Going down this path will end Apple. Which is too bad, as i have always liked apple products and own many ( all the way back to the ][ ).

Re:Lesson learned (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40053065)

| You mean "screw your neighbours and the future generation, I waaaaaant profit now, mum!!! WAAAAH!". Thankfully, most people exceed that maturity level by age of 6 or so.

But very few Corporations every get past that level.

Re:Lesson learned (3, Informative)

biodata (1981610) | more than 2 years ago | (#40051587)

'Fiscal sense' got us in the shit in the first place.

Re:Lesson learned (1)

ifwm (687373) | more than 2 years ago | (#40051677)

I disagree, without "fiscal sense" Apple wouldn't exist to go green in the first place.

Re:Lesson learned (2)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 2 years ago | (#40053395)

Apple isn't what it is because of accountants and MBAs. Apple is where it is because it brought the liberal arts in to product design. And unlike most companies didn't allow accountants and MBAs to penny pinch.

Having a datacentre powered with renewables fits perfectly with Apple's business model.

Re:Lesson learned (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 2 years ago | (#40053071)

If you protest you get your way, even when it doesn't make fiscal sense.

You assume it doesn't make fiscal sense, BUT: Who says it doesn't make fiscal sense what they are doing?
Surely there are some tax incentives and other benefits for Apple to make this choice.

Electricity has been getting more expensive, and generating your own helps make costs more predictable, and less influenced by outside elements, especially if you anticipate the market price will be increasing in the future, AND there is a concern of possible "carbon taxes" being implemented in the future.

Apple has a surplus of cash, it's not as if they can't fiscally afford the 100% renewable thing, especially if it helps them maintain the corporate image they want to maintain, and reduces some risks; AND creates another argument Why users should utilize iCloud: It's GREENER than using your own spinning rust, because your files will be stored on a system that utilizes 100% Green energy. Win win win for Apple.

foo (1, Interesting)

AWeishaupt (917501) | more than 2 years ago | (#40051379)

Bloom Energy's fuel cells run on methane (natural gas) drilled and/or hydrofractured out of the ground, and they react this methane with atmospheric oxygen to yield carbon dioxide which they vent to the atmosphere. The system's thermodynamic efficiency is scarcely higher than a conventional Brayton-cycle gas turbine. As with the rest of the natural gas industry, they've been quite successful in greenwashing their fossil fuel industry. So, how is it exactly that this is "renewable energy"? Anyway, I wouldn't pay attention to any circus of Greenpeace activists outside Apple headquarters. They are science and engineering illiterate neo-luddites. "just days after Greenpeace protested at Apple headquarters over the firm’s use of coal and nuclear-powered electricity at the site." Apple's NC data centre is powered, at least in part, by nuclear energy? That's great news. Now you're really talking about sustainable, scalable, high-capacity-factor, fossil-fuel-replacing, environmentally friendly energy supply.

Re:foo (4, Insightful)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 2 years ago | (#40051553)

Bloom Energy fuel cells can run on any hydrocarbon gas like propane, butane, methane, etc. It has different efficiencies based on the gas. In Apple's case they are attempting to use waste gas coming from a landfill which is mostly methane. It's not renewable per se but much greener than drilling. The renewable was the solar array (which they already built one). This news is for the second array which will increase the amount of green energy the plant uses. I think however Apple was planning this all along as they provisioned for it in their site design. Greenpeace wants to take credit for making Apple do it when they were always going to do it.

Re:foo (4, Informative)

dkf (304284) | more than 2 years ago | (#40051833)

In Apple's case they are attempting to use waste gas coming from a landfill which is mostly methane. It's not renewable per se but much greener than drilling.

It's enormously better than the alternatives. The landfill is producing methane gas anyway (dumping organic matter tends to make that happen) so it's not like it is being specially produced. What's more, methane is a hugely more powerful gas than carbon dioxide when it comes to generating global warming; it's far more efficient at trapping heat itself, it catalyzes the generation of ozone in the atmosphere (itself a heat-trapping gas, as well as otherwise general Bad News when in the troposphere) and eventually it breaks down all the way to CO2 anyway. Far better to burn the methane that would have been otherwise vented and get some useful power out of it than just about any other alternative you can think of (and the second best alternative is actually to just burn that methane as it is produced). Of course, if it was possible to prevent the formation of the methane in the first place then that would potentially be better still, but that's not a realistic option.

In short, whether or not you consider it a renewable option is moot; it's definitely the green option.

Re:foo (2)

Solandri (704621) | more than 2 years ago | (#40052793)

Landfill gas (methane), wood-burning, and biofuels are classified as renewables. There's a tendency for people to think that "gives off CO2 = not renewable". Renewable just means the net mass balance is zero - after all is said and done, you've left the chemical compounds in the same place they started at. In the case of landfill gas and burning wood and biofuels, the carbon in the CO2 released was originally extracted from CO2 in the atmosphere by plants as a part of photosynthesis a few years or decades ago. It got incorporated into the organic matter of the plant, and is eventually released when you burn the wood or biofuel, or the matter decomposes in a landfill. Essentially, they're just acting as a chemical battery storing solar energy originally captured by the plant.

Technically the same is true for fossil fuels. However, the carbon there has been sequestered underground, out of the system for millions of years. So the carbon is considered to have "started at" underground, rather than in the atmosphere. Burning them is considered adding "new" carbon into the atmospheric system. Unless you can figure out a way to convert the CO2 they generate back into carbon and O2 / H2O, and stick the carbon underground again, they're not considered renewable.

Re:foo (1)

Ol Biscuitbarrel (1859702) | more than 2 years ago | (#40051601)

So, how is it exactly that this is "renewable energy"?

Oil? Natural gas?

Pigs. I mean, landfills. Landfillshit. The lights, vehicles, all powered by a high energy gas called methane. Methane comes from landfillshit.

It's called Underworld. It's where Bartertown gets its energy. And don't forget, bust a deal, face the wheel.

North Carolina (2, Informative)

cosm (1072588) | more than 2 years ago | (#40051407)

I live in Raleigh, NC, and for those who have a jaundiced perspective of the south I would like to say that this region is booming in terms of technology-centric business. We have research triangle park with many large corps, labs, data-centers, and rising businesses. We get many migrants from silicon valley who come this way for the better tax benefits and all that jazz. It's a beautiful state. Moving here from Illinois has been great for me and my family.

We also get many business from the DC beltline area and the Virginia tech-sector as well, so there's a lot of growth here in that regard. With the ocean on our east coast and Appalachia on the west, it's a pretty sweet state. Of course there are your stereotypical types, your poor areas, your up-close-and-personal political issues, corruption, et al, but compared to some of our neighboring states down here NC has a very modern feel (SC I'm looking at you!). "North Carina is best Carina!" as some like to say :) Anecdotal, of course, but if you're looking for a city to move to in the south, The Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area has its benefits.

Re:North Carolina (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40051483)

I live here too, but please, if you want decent schools avoid the clusterfuck that is Wake County. Oh, and I did so love our "progressive" view on the definition of marriage that was voted on in the primaries this year. Sigh. It is far better than a lot of places, but still has a long way to go.

Re:North Carolina (0)

FauxPasIII (75900) | more than 2 years ago | (#40051873)

> I live in Raleigh, NC, and for those who have a jaundiced perspective of the south I would like to say that this region is booming in terms of technology-centric business

You know, maybe it's because I've always lived to the south of you (Atlanta), but I never really applied the negative southern stereotype to North Carolina, not until you amended your constitution just a couple weeks ago.

It will be interesting to see how that decision affects the state in the medium term... stereotypes and reputation like that can have a lot of impact on whether companies choose to set up shop there.

Re:North Carolina (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#40052107)

You know, maybe it's because I've always lived to the south of you (Atlanta), but I never really applied the negative southern stereotype to North Carolina, not until you amended your constitution just a couple weeks ago.

Even California did the same in 2008. I don't like it, but it's not a good measure of a state's attitudes.

Apple's Renewable Energy Plan. (3, Funny)

Nyder (754090) | more than 2 years ago | (#40051449)

1. Build Giant Hamster wheel, connect to power grid.
2. Tell Foxconn employess you have a better job for them.
3. ...
4. Profit!!!
5. Fight Lawsuits.

Re:Apple's Renewable Energy Plan. (1)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 2 years ago | (#40052179)

Surely just easier to install a bucket wheel on the side of the Foxconn plant that rotates as it catches a suicidal jumper. Connect output shaft to generator. Profit?

Re:Apple's Renewable Energy Plan. (1)

hey! (33014) | more than 2 years ago | (#40052545)

Actually it will be a water wheel. Apple's new renewable energy source: the tears of Chinese workers.

Stung by? (4, Interesting)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 2 years ago | (#40051475)

WTH? Apple's first response to Greenpeace was something along the lines of "Bullshit. They don't know jack." Reading the article, it looks like Apple caved into Greenpeace's demands. If the reporter had followed Apple's proposal from the beginning, Apple had always proposed a solar array for the site. They also were planning to use landfill gas as another means of energy. Apple never disclosed how much energy the site would be required and how much would be fueled by green power but Apple estimated the center would use 20MW. Greenpeace in their vast inner knowledge of technology estimated Apple would use 100MW. Greenpeace based their estimate solely on how much Apple paid for the total cost of construction. Greenpeace never factored in that part of the construction cost was the solar array (which are expensive) and other non-server related costs. Instead of acknowledging that calculating power based on total construction cost instead of server costs was a miscalculation, Greenpeace acted as if they did something to change Apple's minds. All they did was make fools of themselves. Apple like other tech companies are interested in green power like solar and power efficiency. Part of it is being a good corporate citizen, and part of it is that it saves them money.

Re:Stung by? (0)

Kaenneth (82978) | more than 2 years ago | (#40052931)

Just like with Global Warming; it it gets warmer "We warned you!", if it doesn't "Yay! we saved the world!"

Global Warming isn't Science, because it's not falsifiable (in their minds)

Re:Stung by? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40054845)

Just like Medicine: It is not science because it is not falsifiable that the result of a heart attack was the fact that the person drank 10 liters of soda and ate 5 kilos of butter a day.
It could be genetic. Or god.
Or you are simply a retard.

what "estimate"??? (2, Insightful)

sribe (304414) | more than 2 years ago | (#40051511)

Greenpeace did not estimate anything. They pulled a number out of their asses.

Now of course they'll try to take credit for Apple's "change of heart". Even though the Apple announcement clarifies that the reason they're going from 50% to 100% is that they have now, after presumably months of work on it, been able to acquire an additional 100 acres (40 hectares) of land for a second solar array.

Re:what "estimate"??? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40051583)

Apparently Algore didn't have the votes to get his agenda passed without a little help from Greenpeace. But the whole "renewable" thing is mostly BS because a large percentage of the power generated in that region comes from TVA hydro projects [tva.gov] anyway.

Re:what "estimate"??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40051775)

You're a little far west there, hombre. Maiden's electricity is provided by Duke Energy. And while they do operate some hydro power, there's far more nuclear generation than hyrdo.

Re:what "estimate"??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40053283)

True, but it's all on the grid. Any power company will be happy to sell you "green" electricity at a premium as long as they can swap "dirty" electrons for it.

I too have commited to renewable energy. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40051605)

My plan is to eat at Taco Bell every day. Let the methane production commence!

Agreed, Greenpeace doesn't deserve credit (5, Insightful)

wisebabo (638845) | more than 2 years ago | (#40051695)

Since Apple announced "their planned solar array" just "days after Greenpeace's protest" it is clear Greenpeace didn't push them into doing anything (except maybe making their press release earlier). You don't spec, design, budget and plan a multi-megawatt facility in a few days.

I'm as green/liberal as any other guy (supported Gore, yada yada) but this Apple bashing just because they're Apple is stupid. Why don't people make a fuss about Google or Facebook? Likewise I like my non-Apple electronics (my hi-def TV says "SAMSUNG") but don't people get the fact that EVERYBODY makes their electronics in Chinese sweatshops and that the working conditions at Apple suppliers are probably the best? That's why there are thousands of "apple-icants" whenever there's openings at Foxconn's plants making Apple products. Nobody ever focuses on the fact that ALL the other global electronics makers are building their stuff at places where the conditions are most likely considerably worse (not to mention the second and third tier companies).

Re:Agreed, Greenpeace doesn't deserve credit (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 2 years ago | (#40051923)

Why don't people make a fuss about Google or Facebook? Likewise I like my non-Apple electronics (my hi-def TV says "SAMSUNG") but don't people get the fact that EVERYBODY makes their electronics in Chinese sweatshops and that the working conditions at Apple suppliers are probably the best?

Because the hipsters using Apple products want desperately to believe that Apple is indeed somehow 'better' than all those others. When they find out it isn't (FOXCONN) they lash out.
They don't call out the other companies because they know they are evil, and as such cannot be fixed. But Apple is somehow supposed to rise above the masses and market forces. Steve told them so, so it must be so.

Bullshit (1)

Brannon (221550) | more than 2 years ago | (#40053431)

you hate Apple because someone with a nicer haircut than you likes their iPhone. That doesn't make you a rebel, it makes you a douchebag.

Re:Agreed, Greenpeace doesn't deserve credit (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 2 years ago | (#40055043)

Because the hipsters using Apple products want desperately to believe that Apple is indeed somehow 'better' than all those others. When they find out it isn't (FOXCONN) they lash out.

The really funny thing is Apple IS better - Apple is giving money to Foxconn to improve factories, no other company is doing that. They have also given workers bonuses in the past.

The only people lashing out mindlessly are the green companies that are ignoring the companies that actually do not care and punishing one of the few that cares even a little.

Re:Agreed, Greenpeace doesn't deserve credit (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40052163)

People don't make a fuss about Google because Google has always been transparent about their dedication to clean energy, and has been recognized many times for it. They're even making giant investments in renewables. http://www.google.com/green/energy/ [google.com]

Meanwhile, Apple has been as opaque as possible regarding their environmental effects, only opening up about it when they think it'll affect their bottom line.

Re:Agreed, Greenpeace doesn't deserve credit (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40052541)

Let me introduce you to the top assholes at Google:

  • - Vic Gundotra : The asshole who ruined Google+ by insisting on his moronic Real Names policy.
  • - Sundar Pichai: The utter asshole whose incompetence has resulted in the shutdown of Google's Atlanta office.
  • - David Drummond: Chief Legal Asshole and author of the creepy privacy policy.
  • - Andy Rubin: Another huge asshole. A hypocrite who puts carriers first and users last. An imbecile who brags about Android's openness while keeping all development behind close doors.
  • - Ben Treynor: The very definition of arrogant asshole. Threatened Dell not to buy anymore hardware from them and then it turned out it was Google who hadn't signed the support contracts. Did he ever apologized for his 'arrogant asshole' behavior? Of course not!

--
I care about my privacy, so I NEVER use any product made by the arrogant Google assholes.

Timing Sucks. (1)

bmo (77928) | more than 2 years ago | (#40051801)

This, after the US has slapped a 31 percent import tariff on photovoltaic cells from China, which happened just the other day.

The protests from the PRC came in yesterday.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303360504577411693605403040.html [wsj.com]

My take on it is that China has been dumping and this protesting is pro-forma but it sucks if you're an end-user of pv cells.

--
BMO

Re:Timing Sucks. (1)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 2 years ago | (#40052025)

Might be a good short term boost for the US economy though - I mean, now Apple needs 40MW of solar panels and the cost of the Chinese ones just got more expensive. Should be a few happy US workers tonight (although ultimately I think punitive import tariffs are something of a double edged sword, there's not much you can do against a determined dumping on the market).

Siting questionable (1)

Shavano (2541114) | more than 2 years ago | (#40051929)

If they wanted to save electrical power, they picked a bad location. In North Carolina, their air conditioning costs will be very high. They'd save a lot on power by builing in Colorado, Utah, Nevada or Wyoming where the air is cooler and dryer and for large parts of the year you can just open the windows for cooling.

Re:Siting questionable (1)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 2 years ago | (#40052035)

It's not just in NC for the power though - there's land prices, network links to the backbone, various tax breaks from the local city, etc all factored into the location.

I'm assuming they did their homework on where to build it given how much it cost. ;)

Re:Siting questionable (1)

Shavano (2541114) | more than 2 years ago | (#40052389)

It wasn't for energy efficiency reasons is all I'm saying.

I think it must have been mostly for the tax breaks.

Re:Siting questionable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40052609)

Being in those other parts of the country isn't so awesome when you're trying to shorten the routes to destination devices on the eastern seaboard. If the primary concern was power efficiency, they could build in Alaska. Fuck Utah. There are other concerns that come first. After those are satisfied, then power concerns.

Whale oil steam boilers! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40051947)

We will generate electricity on site (at night when the solar array is useless), by burning whale oil in the steam boilers (and generating electricity from the steam turbine). That oil from the ground is non-renewable, but oil from whales is renewable! Now lets kill us some whales!

OMG, No! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40052395)

Slavery was outlawed in NC a long time ago. I can't believe they think they can--what? No slave driven pedal power? Solar panels, you say? Very well then, carry on.

Re:OMG, No! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40052531)

1986 wasnt that long ago...

First Phrase (1)

dwightk (415372) | more than 2 years ago | (#40052401)

leave off the first phrase of the summary and it's accuracy and quality increase dramatically.

If Greenpeace wanted to do something useful... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40053011)

...they could lobby Apple to stop making devices that are nearly impossible to repair.

Most idevices will end up in the trash since Apple designs them to be not repairable. I bet the environmental impact of itrash is greater than the electricity consumed by this data center.

Of course, when your idevice fails, Apple would rather sell you a new one than let you fix the one you already bought.

Re:If Greenpeace wanted to do something useful... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40054805)

...they could lobby Apple to stop making devices that are nearly impossible to repair.

I repair Apple devices every day, and so do hundreds of Apple service technicians and outside repair vendors. Your incompetence isn't their fault.

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