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Apple Powering Nevada Datacenter With Solar Farm

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the located-for-easy-access-to-vegas dept.

Power 104

Nerval's Lobster writes "Apple's Nevada data center has been in the works for quite some time: a 2,200-acre plot outside of Reno will host a 90,000-square-foot datacenter that, in turn, will support the tech giant's cloud services. Apple will reportedly spend $1 billion over the next decade on the facilities, in return for significant tax abatements at the city, county and state levels. It will also fund and build a 137-acre solar farm, managed in conjunction with NV Energy, to power the datacenter (it will generate approximately 43.5 million kilowatt hours of electricity). The Reno datacenter will be the third Apple cloud facility in the U.S. that is powered largely or entirely by solar power. Sixty percent of the power for Apple's North Carolina datacenter comes from an existing solar-power farm near the facility; an Apple datacenter in Oregon uses solar power for part of its power load, but also uses power from wind and hydroelectric sources."

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Wait, what? (4, Funny)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about a year ago | (#44171279)

They're powering their iCloud with solar panels? I thought clouds blocked the sun?

Re:Wait, what? (5, Funny)

lgw (121541) | about a year ago | (#44171311)

It's the basic principle of Conservation of Cloud: when there are clouds over the datacenter, the cloud in the data center goes away.

Re:Wait, what? (4, Funny)

605dave (722736) | about a year ago | (#44171315)

Jonny Ive added a translucency effect to the new iClouds, so they should fine.

Re:Wait, what? (1)

ackthpt (218170) | about a year ago | (#44171475)

They're powering their iCloud with solar panels? I thought clouds blocked the sun?

The spirit of Jobs will continue to shine down upon them and power them. Ye of little belief.

Well yes... (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | about a year ago | (#44171533)

What do you think the sun is doing on top of the clouds exactly....

And it's always been true that solar energy is responsible for clouds. Otherwise how would water evaporate?

Re:Wait, what? (3, Funny)

nitehawk214 (222219) | about a year ago | (#44171727)

They're powering their iCloud with solar panels? I thought clouds blocked the sun?

Its Oracle not Sun now.

Re:Wait, what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44172049)

The clouds are powered by the sun but I don't expect a fucktard like you to understand basic weather.

Re:Wait, what? (0)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about a year ago | (#44172343)

I may not understand basic weather but I do understand C++ weather.

Re:Wait, what? (1)

meglon (1001833) | about a year ago | (#44172153)

Wait.... clouds block sun? Hmm... lizard poisons Spock.. Spoc...NO, there are no CLOUDS!

Where is Tuppe666 (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44171285)

Where is Tuppe666 to comment that Apple is a shitbag and that Google is great. This article related to one of the two isn't complete without his awful shillery.

Re:Where is Tuppe666 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44172845)

I won't waste a mod point 'insightful' but taupe is probably back in his restraints or now taking his checks from MS.

Wait until there's a post about high res displays, that normally brings him out with a list of stuff that has a higher pixel count than a 'retina' display. You know, the one that's on wikipedia that we all know about.

Sadly, he lacks the intelligence to find anything to troll about this time around

Cool! (1)

bdabautcb (1040566) | about a year ago | (#44171299)

This sounds great. I'm a biologist, wondering if any power nerds can clue us into any potential issues or downsides? Definetely a move towards alternative energy sources.

Re:Cool! (2)

zmooc (33175) | about a year ago | (#44171379)

The major downside would be apple.com being down once the sun sets.

Re:Cool! (5, Funny)

msauve (701917) | about a year ago | (#44171471)

Fortunately, they have batteries. Unfortunately, they're not replaceable.

Re:Cool! (5, Funny)

v1 (525388) | about a year ago | (#44171507)

Fortunately, they have batteries. Unfortunately, they're not replaceable.

Not user-replaceable.

They'll just have to ship their datacenter to an authorized service provider.

Re:Cool! (1)

timeOday (582209) | about a year ago | (#44171641)

Nevada has the Hoover Dam and not nearly enough water to run it full bore all the time, so there is one big-ass battery for you.

Then again with all the AC needed just to survive in NV it is hard to imagine solar ever outstripping peak daytime demand.

Hoover does not power Reno (1)

fuckface (32611) | about a year ago | (#44171861)

Are you kidding me? Have you seen the size of Nevada? Do you know how far Reno is from the Hoover Dam?? 2 seconds on Google would have shown you that Reno is powered by the natural gas fired Frank A. Tracy Generating Station. Furthermore, Clark County has FIVE nat-gas plants AND a coal burner to power Vegas and friends. The vast majority of Hoover power goes to CA and AZ.

Re:Hoover does not power Reno (1)

msauve (701917) | about a year ago | (#44172165)

Clark County has FIVE nat-gas plants AND a coal burner to power Vegas and friends. The vast majority of Hoover power goes to CA and AZ.

That seems like the definition of "cross purposes" to me. Go figure, them wasting all the transmission losses.

Re:Hoover does not power Reno (1)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | about a year ago | (#44172497)

When they built the Hoover Dam, Las Vegas was a small town and Nevada had a tiny population so the setup was that the majority of the energy goes to Southern California. I think Nevada gets only about 25%. Yes it hardly makes sense now that Vegas is right next door but almost all Vegas power comes from coal and natural gas.

Re:Hoover does not power Reno (1)

timeOday (582209) | about a year ago | (#44172201)

Actually I did google it before posting, and it said Reno gets about half its power from local generation; the other half is bought from cheap hydro sources in the pacific northwest. But the point was there is at least one spot with lots of sunshine, empty land, a huge and under-filled reservoir, and big electricity requirements, so there is no point worrying about storage capacity for solar, for several different reasons really.

Re:Hoover does not power Reno (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44173539)

Reno gets 100% of its power from local generation. The steamboat geothermal power plant provides approximately 100MW

Re:Hoover does not power Reno (1)

timeOday (582209) | about a year ago | (#44176695)

Well, I am no expert but here [nvenergy.com] is the page I was looking at:

Northern Nevada: Where Does Your Power Come From?

NV Energy has enough company-owned power plants to serve nearly all the needs of northern Nevada most of the time. The companyâ(TM)s three generating stations have the capacity to produce over 1,500 megawatts of electricity. (One megawatt is equivalent to the power required to serve about 600 households.)

The peak demand for power by the companyâ(TM)s 323,000 customers in 2011 was 1,513 megawatts.

In order to hold down costs, NV Energy relies on a combination of power generated at company-owned plants and electricity purchased from other utilities and independent power producers, including several geothermal plants located in Nevada.

In 2011, the company generated 50.5 percent of the electricity for the company's customers in northern Nevada and purchased 49.5 percent. Much of the purchased power consisted of lower-cost hydroelectric power from the Pacific Northwest.

Re:Cool! (1)

dbIII (701233) | about a year ago | (#44172305)

Actually I see such things as a very good case for solar airconditioning - it's a heat pump after all and can be driven by any source of heat, even solar.

Re:Cool! (2)

v1 (525388) | about a year ago | (#44171571)

This problem is either handled by thermal storage or by just simply using other power source (commercial, wind, etc) when there's no sun.

One common approach is liquid sodium. You use an array of moving mirrors to heat sodium being circulated in a tower in the middle of the mirror farm. That circulates with a large, heavily insulated tank of liquid sodium under the facility. It heats up during the day, cools off during the evening, but is always hot enough to boil water to run turbines. (unless you get like a week straight of no sun, iirc these facilities can "coast" around four days without much sun)

Really downtime isn't important anyway. During a sunny day, they'll be generating a lot more power than they use in the center. The remainder of that will be getting bought back by the local utility, for credit on their bill when the sun goes down etc. A lot of municipalities/states are passing laws requiring the local utils to buy back power during peak-production times. (they were fighting it) So even just straight solar panels with no thermal or even battery storage is fine. They'll rack up credit during the day, spend it overnight, and will come out somewhere around even on the average, without having to spend money (and reoccurring replacement money) on batteries etc. Batteries are a very poor investment if you can just sell your excess power back to the local utility and use them as an almost zero-cost buffer.

Re:Cool! (1)

dwywit (1109409) | about a year ago | (#44172275)

Except that a data center of this size and reputation can't afford to go down, hence there'll be some big BIG BIIIIG backup generators, and I imagine there'll also be a system (some batteries or big caps) to buffer grid fluctuations. I didn't read the article, but are they planning to run their machines on DC?

Re:Cool! (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year ago | (#44175893)

I didn't read the article, but are they planning to run their machines on DC?

I suspect it goes through an inverter just like everything else.

My computer is hooked up to a UPS, and the UPS is feeding it AC power. I'm pretty sure this is a solved problem.

Re:Cool! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44171451)

Very simple. It takes far more energy (as in burned coal and oil) to make the PV cells, the panels, the frames, the wiring, and the charge controllers than the panel will EVER gain back in its usable lifetime.

Apple could go with the technology of "burning" aluminum to alumina and be better off with less oil/coal burnt, but solar provides a nice illusion of being green with the toy amounts of energy gained, when in reality, it takes at least 2-3 watts of energy to get one watt of solar out.

But it is a "green" technology, so lets not get to any real details that it isn't really an energy source at all.

Re:Cool! (1, Insightful)

SnarfQuest (469614) | about a year ago | (#44171529)

As a biologist, you should be able to guess what will happen when 200+ agres of prime wilderness are paved over with solar panes. I don't think the native species are designed to handle the transition to darkness.

Re:Cool! (2, Informative)

hyperquantization (804651) | about a year ago | (#44173059)

I'm a physicist and software engineer, and although I agree that the idea is fantastic, I'm skeptical of the execution. Photovoltaics, as I understand, are economically less viable than concentrated solar power (even Concentrated Photovoltaics, which are more efficient than your run-of-the-mill solar panel, aren't quite there yet), particularly in the form of Solar Power Towers (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_power_tower). I'm not sure what the obsession is with solar panels: they're not only resource-intensive, but they're still quite inefficient (commercial units now have ~20% efficiency, only recently has research broken the 30% limit). They require materials that are more difficult to obtain (rare earths) than what's require to build Solar power towers (steel, lots of steel, and water).

Please, somebody tell me what the obsession with photovoltaic solar power is...

Re:Cool! (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about a year ago | (#44173709)

It's simple really. Concentrated solar needs a big tower and an array of mirrors. PV just needs a roof, which every building already has. If the building is designed to last 5 years or more and you can afford the up-front cost the solar PV will always pay off, so why wouldn't you do it?

Re:Cool! (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | about a year ago | (#44174019)

If the building is designed to last 5 years or more and you can afford the up-front cost the solar PV will always pay off, so why wouldn't you do it?

..because obviously there is no way in hell that it pays off in 5 years.

The national average home uses 940 kWh/month. The national average for 1 kWh is $0.099. Therefore the national average electricity cost is $93.06/month.

In order to break even after 5 years the cost of the solar power system must be no greater than $5583.60 and at that price it must cover 100% of the homes energy needs.

In what dream world are you living in that such a system can be installed for that price?

Re:Cool! (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about a year ago | (#44174129)

You don't seem to understand basic economics.

Your consumption is reduced when you use energy that is generated. You get paid for energy fed back into the grid when you are not using it. In some places you get paid regardless of if you used it or you fed it back into the grid.

At the moment the pay-back time for a medium sized (say 2-3kW) installation is about 5 years in most developed countries. Some a bit more, some a bit less, depending on the cost of electricity and the feed-in tariff.

Re:Cool! (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | about a year ago | (#44175067)

You don't seem to understand basic economics. Your consumption is reduced when you use energy that is generated. You get paid for energy fed back into the grid when you are not using it.

No, you don't seem to understand basic economics.

I realize that you think vague general ideas trumps actual numbers, but in reality they do not.

In effect, you have made it even harder to recover the costs over 5 years because you used more panels than you needed in order to have that surplus electricity that you think is a magic bullet, so your hand waving about it means absolutely nothing to people with a brain because they know that having a surplus costs fucking money.

Do some math, find a supplier, find an installer, then show us some numbers. if thats too hard for you, then maybe you shouldnt be lecturing anyone about basic economics. Here, i'll start this off for you: The cheapest system that would produce a monthly surplus costs $12,515 [wholesalesolar.com] from this supplier.. and that doesnt even fucking include installation cost or roof racks. To produce a 100% surplus, that would cost $23,770 but of course only get you back $5583.60 over 5 years and save $5583.60 over 5 years, for a total loss after 5 years of $12,602.80.. again not including the cost of fucking installation.

Re:Cool! (1)

Darkelf (30761) | about a year ago | (#44175329)

You don't seem to understand basic economics. Your consumption is reduced when you use energy that is generated. You get paid for energy fed back into the grid when you are not using it.

No, you don't seem to understand basic economics.

I realize that you think vague general ideas trumps actual numbers, but in reality they do not.

In effect, you have made it even harder to recover the costs over 5 years because you used more panels than you needed in order to have that surplus electricity that you think is a magic bullet, so your hand waving about it means absolutely nothing to people with a brain because they know that having a surplus costs fucking money.

Do some math, find a supplier, find an installer, then show us some numbers. if thats too hard for you, then maybe you shouldnt be lecturing anyone about basic economics. Here, i'll start this off for you: The cheapest system that would produce a monthly surplus costs $12,515 [wholesalesolar.com] from this supplier.. and that doesnt even fucking include installation cost or roof racks. To produce a 100% surplus, that would cost $23,770 but of course only get you back $5583.60 over 5 years and save $5583.60 over 5 years, for a total loss after 5 years of $12,602.80.. again not including the cost of fucking installation.

Don't assume he was going for 100% of household needs. Rarely is the sweet spot on the bell curve of costs/rebates/credits anywhere near 100% (and apple is surely getting incentives to max this out).

He is correct, a 5-year payback is the norm. You size the array to maximize your bang-for-the-buck.

The economics are basic, and they work.

Re:Cool! (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | about a year ago | (#44176267)

He is correct, a 5-year payback is the norm. You size the array to maximize your bang-for-the-buck.

The AC that replied to him cited otherwise. Seems that electricity has to cost $0.50/kWh in order for it to pay back in 5 years.

$0.50/kWh is not the norm. Its 500% of the norm.

Re:Cool! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44175209)

These people [solarpanelscostguide.com] show that for a 5-year payback, electricity must cost at least 50 cents per thousand watt hours. Thats 5 times as much as what electricity costs in the United States. They also point out that, like the grandparent said, that this doesnt even factor in the additional cost of installation which is going to be many thousands of dollars all by itself.

You don't seem to know what you are talking about, so why are you talking?

Re:Cool! (1)

Space cowboy (13680) | about a year ago | (#44177129)

I live in CA. 4 years ago I installed a $70k ($50k after rebates) 8kW solar system on my roof and my garage's roof.

Prior to solar, my original electricity bill peaked at ~$1100/month, more commonly about $600. This is due mainly to my own choices, no doubt, but still that's what we are dealing with - in Summer, the AC is on quite a bit (it's been 106F this last week) and the pool pump needs to run 8 hours a day for good cleaning. There's also the 2 pond pumps which run 24/7 and the reef tank pumps which also run 24/7. Add in a baby (so lots of washing-machine and dryer activity) and it adds up...

After the solar installation, my bill peaks at ~$100, more commonly about $50. This gives me an average saving of ~$8500 per year, and if you divide $55k by $8.5k you get 5.88 years to pay for itself. By some definitions that's 5 years...

In terms of cost, certainly the main issue is that I consume a lot of electricity. I'm happier now that most of that comes gratis from the sun, but also partly it's California's (or at least PG&E's) electricity pricing which ranges in tiers (the below taken from www.pge.com)

$0.1323 ... baseline
$0.1504 ... 101% -> 130% of baseline
$0.3111 ... 131% -> 200% of baseline
$0.3511 ... 200% -> 300% of baseline
$0.3514 ... 301%+

My baseline is set at 7.5 kWh per day (or ~225 kWh/month) , and I consume about 40kWh per day on a "good" (no AC, pool closed) day (pumping water is energy-intensive...). For me at least, the maths works out. When you're looking at individual cases, using average numbers is not such a great idea...

Simon

Re:Cool! (1)

nojayuk (567177) | about a year ago | (#44176081)

Solar thermal power stations like the SEGS in the Mojave desert require lots of water to operate since they use a Carnot cycle, producing steam to drive turbines which then needs condensing on the other side of the loop like any thermal power station (coal, gas, nuclear). The SEGS generating facility evaporates 3.5 tonnes of water for every MWh of electricity produced, pumped out of a local aquifer which is not being replenished.

Thermal solar power stations tend to be situated in deserts where sunlight is abundant and land is cheap but the lack of renewable water sources is a bit of a hurdle to overcome unless a rape-and-run operation is planned, make money for twenty years or so and then abandon the site when the water runs out.

"43.5 million kilowatt hours" (3, Insightful)

Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) | about a year ago | (#44171303)

Over its lifetime? Per year? Per what?

Re:"43.5 million kilowatt hours" (1)

otuz (85014) | about a year ago | (#44171339)

Probably 43.5 GWh over its lifetime. The article is badly written, and so is the summary: classic Slashdot style.

Re:"43.5 million kilowatt hours" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44171377)

The nameplate capacity is 18 MW.

43.5 GWh per year is in the ballpark (though slightly optimistic, I think), so I assume that figure is per year.

Re:"43.5 million kilowatt hours" (1)

Shavano (2541114) | about a year ago | (#44172705)

I don't see how that's optimistic. At 39.5 degrees north latitude (Reno), 137 acres (half a million square meters) of solar farm has peak insolation of about 352MW. (Actually, more in the summer and less in the winter, but that would be close to peak on an average day.) Figuring they get about 6 hours usable sunlight per day, that comes to about 2.11GWh per day. Multiply that by the efficiency of the panels. If they're 20% efficient, they could produce about 422,000 kWh on a good day. The 43.5million kWh figure is therefore mystifying. It seems to indicate something like 100 days worth of output.

Re:"43.5 million kilowatt hours" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44172797)

I don't see how that's optimistic.

Because it's an 18 MW plant, not a 70 MW plant, according to the article. (Don't ask me why; I have no idea.)

Re:"43.5 million kilowatt hours" (3, Interesting)

SnowZero (92219) | about a year ago | (#44173559)

137 acre plant != 137 acres of solar panels
Large solar setups need roads to access the panels, and if they are tilted it'll need space between panels to avoid wasted panel area from shadows.

Here's a similar but older plant:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nellis_Solar_Power_Plant [wikipedia.org]
    14 MW, 140 acres, 30 GW*h/year, built in 2007
Note in the photos how much sun hits the dirt (i.e. not on panels within the 140 acre plant).

So it's the right ballpark for a newer plant of the same size (but with better solar panels or packing) to be 18MW in 137 acres. I think you are right that it isn't optimistic, 43 GW*h/year sounds perfectly reasonable for a plant built 6 years later.

Re:"43.5 million kilowatt hours" (1)

nojayuk (567177) | about a year ago | (#44176405)

Your assumption is that peak insolation lasts for 6 hours a day which is wrong. Peak insolation only occurs around noon when the sun is high in the sky and the airpath to the panel surface is minimal. Early in the morning and late in the evening the sun is low in the sky, the airpath is long and the blue and UV light which drives photovoltaics gets absorbed by the air, attenuateded by clouds, diffracted by dust etc. and the output of the cells drops off significantly even if sun-tracking arrays are used (more expensive to build, break down more often than fixed arrays, need wider spacing to prevent fraternal shadowing of adjacent panels, more prone to damage from storm-force winds catching them like sails, use power themselves to track...)

The figures reported in the press for renewables such as PV and wind tend to emphasise the maximum possible output -- a 5MW wind turbine or a 300MW PV/solar thermal array. It's a bit like headlining the fact your car can do 130 mph although it almost never reaches that speed that even when you're driving and most of the time it's sitting still parked up somewhere. A more realistic figure is the total number of miles you drive each year in the car rather than its maximum speed in which case your car's average "speed" is more like 1.1 mph (10,000 miles a year) and the same should apply to comparisons of power generating systems. For example an EPR1400 nuclear reactor produces more than 10,000 GWhr of electricity per year baseload with a 90% uptime whereas this solar farm will produce 43GWh over the same time period non-baseload.

Re:"43.5 million kilowatt hours" (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44171405)

Over its lifetime? Per year? Per what?

The second quoted article says, "While the total cost of the proposed solar project was not disclosed, it’s ultimately expected to generate 43.5 million kilowatt hours of solar energy — the equivalent of taking 6,400 cars off the road each year, the company said in a statement."

So I guess the savings is 43.5 million kilowatt hours per year, but it's not clear.

Re:"43.5 million kilowatt hours" (1)

Shavano (2541114) | about a year ago | (#44172785)

43.5kWh is at least an amount of energy in engineering units. But now we've got a new unit: cars-of-the-road. Apparently a car-off-the-road is a unit of energy, equal to about 6800 kWh.
Let's see if this car-off-the-road unit makes any sense. Cars are usually powered with gasoline. A gallon of gas has 33.4kWh of energy, according to the DOE. 6800kWh therefore sound like about 203 gallons of gas. If an average car gets 24 miles per gallon, that represents about 4800 vehicle miles. Most people drive their cars much more than that.

Quantities do not check out. Proposed unit "car-of-the-road" is hereby rejected.

Re:"43.5 million kilowatt hours" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44171957)

Over its lifetime? Per year? Per what?

This article [yahoo.com] says, "The new solar farm will provide power to Sierra Pacific Power Co's electric grid that serves Apple's data centre and when completed will generate about hours 43.5 million kilowatt of clean energy a year, Apple said in a statement." So it's per year.

Re:"43.5 million kilowatt hours" (2)

GumphMaster (772693) | about a year ago | (#44172091)

It might be per-year in that article but it still makes no sense. "43.5 million kilowatt" is not a measure of energy. So, if the PR drones could marry this article with the one linked in the summary then we might get a sensible set of units and a time period: 43.5 million kilowatt-hours per year.

Night (1, Flamebait)

drwho (4190) | about a year ago | (#44171325)

Too bad it will have to shutdown at night when the sun goes down.

drwho is just too brialliant (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44171431)

Too bad it will have to shutdown at night when the sun goes down.

Absolutely! You are sooo right!

The engineers who designed it never thought to get feedback on their designs from 4 digit Slashdot users. And we all know that Slashdot users are the most intelligent - most knowledgeable people on Earth!

Thank you for your input! We are going to halt the project with the reason that a Slashdot user - a 4 digit user no less - found a problem that none of us EVER thought if!

I am constantly astounded by the brilliance and intellect of the Slashdot crowd. That's why I'm an AC - I'm just toooo stupid to be a registered account holder!

Re:Night (1)

Khyber (864651) | about a year ago | (#44171565)

Uhh, battery backup storing such a huge amount of power that isn't being used? You know, these things called uninterruptable power supplies?

Dumb (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44172665)

It's too bad you have to shutdown at night when the sun goes down. Drink much?

43.5 million kilowatt hours ?? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44171351)

And then what - they'll dismantle it? Normally such things are spec'ed in wattage

Re:43.5 million kilowatt hours ?? (2)

Guspaz (556486) | about a year ago | (#44171437)

The wattage is by itself meaningless. How much power is produced varies wildly based on the duration and intensity of the sunlight, which varies by geographic location and local weather patterns.

Measuring it in watt hours, on the other hand, is a practical measurement, since it's both how power is actually paid for, and gives you an idea of the real output of the system.

For example, TFA indicates this is an 18 megawatt installation, but the 43.5 "million kilo" watt hours (or 43.5 gigawatt hours if you don't use bullshit units) indicates an average of a bit under 5 megawatts.

Re:43.5 million kilowatt hours ?? (2)

hawguy (1600213) | about a year ago | (#44171509)

The wattage is by itself meaningless. How much power is produced varies wildly based on the duration and intensity of the sunlight, which varies by geographic location and local weather patterns.

Measuring it in watt hours, on the other hand, is a practical measurement, since it's both how power is actually paid for, and gives you an idea of the real output of the system.

For example, TFA indicates this is an 18 megawatt installation, but the 43.5 "million kilo" watt hours (or 43.5 gigawatt hours if you don't use bullshit units) indicates an average of a bit under 5 megawatts.

43.5M KWh by itself is meaningless, unless, as the parent posted wrote, they are planning to tear down the plant after it hits that level.

You're assuming 43.5M KWh per year which wasn't stated in the summary and only implied in the article.

Re:43.5 million kilowatt hours ?? (1)

jones_supa (887896) | about a year ago | (#44174011)

43.5 million kilowatt hours ?? And then what - they'll dismantle it?

Yes. Then all the data has been processed. In that power budget all programs should have finished and returned the Final Result which is then archived and the computers will be shut down. Then the building is transformed into a generic concrete slab factory.

Re:43.5 million kilowatt hours ?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44174759)

Generic concrete slabs are in high demand out there in the desert. I learnt this playing Dune 2.

Not too hot? (1)

axlash (960838) | about a year ago | (#44171367)

I thought that keeping servers cool was a big concern in data centers. Might it not have made more sense to locate this in a colder place?

Nevada and solar (2)

Okian Warrior (537106) | about a year ago | (#44171371)

The Burning Man [burningman.com] festival noted that with all the Nevada rebates on solar panels, net was effectively the cost of installation.

Burning Man has access to a large amount of volunteer labor, so they can effectively put up solar panels for free. They setup panels to power parts of the event (the man), then move them to Gerlach once the festival is over. As I recall, the goal was to provide all the power [cnet.com] for the towns nearest the festival.

I wish other states were as forward-looking. At this point the benefits (to the state) of encouraging the infrastructure probably outweigh the costs.

(Yes, I know. Just getting to burning man uses an enormous amount of fossil fuels. What's your point?)

Re:Nevada and solar (2)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about a year ago | (#44171455)

I wish other states were as forward-looking. At this point the benefits (to the state) of encouraging the infrastructure probably outweigh the costs.

They aren't so forward looking. The subsidies are for very large installations, effectively eliminating residential installations - keeping us beholden to corporate central generation. In fact, the dollars available for residential solar are so small that only about 70 installs per year get any money at all.

http://solarpowerrocks.com/nevada/ [solarpowerrocks.com]

At least you don't have to pay property tax on your solar equipment, but Nevada's got one of the lowest property tax rates in the country anyway so it ain't all that big a deal.

Re:Nevada and solar (-1, Troll)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about a year ago | (#44171895)

with all the Nevada rebates on solar panels, net was effectively the cost of installation.

So, in Nevada, if you want Solar, your neighbors pay for most of it?

Or, contrariwise, if your neighbor wants Solar, YOU pay for part of it?

Or are you one of those people that believe that "subsidy" is a magical source of free money?

Re:Nevada and solar (1)

Okian Warrior (537106) | about a year ago | (#44171945)

Or are you one of those people that believe that "subsidy" is a magical source of free money?

Are you one of those people who think that the government would give back the money if there was no place to spend it?

Let's spend government money on tangible efforts to improve society. If not, what do you think they will do with the money?

Re:Nevada and solar (1)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | about a year ago | (#44172529)

Cut taxes? People have a choice to invest in solar panels, or other things if they prefer. What is the advantage of the government taking that money and making the choice for them? I guess people are dumb and the government knows better, right?

Re:Nevada and solar (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44171975)

What I mean is like, "we're Italian."

Re:Nevada and solar (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44172427)

I pay more in taxes than I got back from the solar install subsidy. So, I still paid taxes, just less than I would have had to.

Now, I make my own power and am all high tech and part of the 'war on coal'.

Re:Nevada and solar (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year ago | (#44176985)

no.. if a festival or a company wants free solar energy, you pay it(if you live there and pay taxes).

What happens after it generates 43.5 million KWh? (1)

hawguy (1600213) | about a year ago | (#44171389)

What happens after the plant generates 43.5 million kilowatt hours of electricity? Does it self destruct?

Assuming that they meant 43.5 million KWh per year, that's still only about 5MW of power on average [google.com] , which is likely less than half what the datacenter will consume. And when the sun is not at its peak, it'll be drawing power from NV Energy's conventional fossil fuel plants.

Re:What happens after it generates 43.5 million KW (1)

Internal Modem (1281796) | about a year ago | (#44171421)

So?

Re:What happens after it generates 43.5 million KW (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44171433)

Assuming that they meant 43.5 million KWh per year, that's still only about 5MW of power on average [google.com], which is likely less than half what the datacenter will consume. And when the sun is not at its peak, it'll be drawing power from NV Energy's conventional fossil fuel plants.

Fortunately, it is possible for electricity to flow both ways along the wire.

The nameplate capacity of the installation will be 18 MW, so if the data center requires 10 MW, it will feed power to the grid during the day and draw it at night.

Re:What happens after it generates 43.5 million KW (2)

Sponge Bath (413667) | about a year ago | (#44171523)

...it'll be drawing power from NV Energy's conventional fossil fuel plants.

No, it will be drawing power from geothermal sources. Check here. [theregister.co.uk]

Re:What happens after it generates 43.5 million KW (1)

edxwelch (600979) | about a year ago | (#44172653)

"43.5 million kilowatt hours should be enough for veryone", Tim Cook, 2013

Re:What happens after it generates 43.5 million KW (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44172993)

Thanks. I was having dimensional trouble with "will generate 43.5 million kilowatt hours", and had the same thought as you did. :)

Only 137 acres? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44171393)

That's less than a half-mile square (which is 160 acres).

They should go for at least a 1 mile square (640 acres) now that would be worth talking about!

Re:Only 137 acres? (2)

hawguy (1600213) | about a year ago | (#44171425)

That's less than a half-mile square (which is 160 acres).

They should go for at least a 1 mile square (640 acres) now that would be worth talking about!

The other (and more clear) way to say "half-mile square" (i.e. a square with each side being one half mile long) is "one quarter square mile".

Re:Only 137 acres? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44172709)

I apologize for stating it in such a wrong manner and I will now commit Hari-Krishna. Goodbye everyone.

Re:Only 137 acres? (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about a year ago | (#44173683)

804.672^2m is even clearer, or 880^2 yards if you like.

What are the other 2,060 acres for? (1)

sribe (304414) | about a year ago | (#44171417)

2,200 acres to house a 2.2 acre facility??? OK, add in the 137-acre solar farm, still less than 140 acres used?

Re:What are the other 2,060 acres for? (1)

mirix (1649853) | about a year ago | (#44171443)

Buffer space, so the panels don't get damaged from stray bullets.

A wind farm perhaps? (1)

mendax (114116) | about a year ago | (#44171479)

Anyone who has spent any amount of time in the desert knows two things: It's sunny most of the time and it's windy most of the time. Perhaps they're planning on covering their bases and are planning on installing some windmills to generate power when a storm rolls through and there is no sun. And on the sunny and windy days, any excess power they have can be sold to the local utility.

Re:A wind farm perhaps? (2)

mlts (1038732) | about a year ago | (#44171681)

There are always batteries and even flywheels to store some power for use come night, which can help reduce the power bought from the local utility even more.

Solar is one of those things that is becoming a "why not?" as opposed to a "why?" Throw a couple panels on a roof or a shed, have a MPPT controller [1] for a set of batteries, then add a 3000 watt inverter and a 15A circuit to the house where all chargers and relatively low, parasitic items can plug into. That way, even though the larger items like the A/C, hair dryers, and such end up using grid power, the small loads which are expensive over time are taken care of. With a battery bank and a transfer switch [2], one can even switch medium-size, but critical items like a refrigerator if there is a blackout.

[1]: PWM controllers are OK, but why waste the watts, especially if one has limited room for panels, so might as well pony up for something that is better for battery charging.

[2]: I prefer transfer switches over circuit breaker interlocks, just because they are more idiot-resistant, and a lot harder to backfeed the mains.

Re:A wind farm perhaps? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44172813)

Why would you want to reduce the power bought from the local utility? The great thing about having the local utility there is that you can use them to effectively store power. During the day, they get to shut down their turbines and buy power from you. During the night, they start up the turbines and sell you the power you need.

Transmission losses are a thing, of course, but batteries have their own inefficiencies.

Re:A wind farm perhaps? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44171719)

It's sunny most of the time and it's windy most of the time..

Really? Gee, I'd have thought it'd only be sunny at most half of the time.

Windy, I could agree with.

So what happens when it's NOT sunny and by definition, windy? Or does that never happen? (I don't live near a desert.)

Re:A wind farm perhaps? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44173571)

Geothermal. I honestly don't understand why they even bother with wind or solar when Nevada is sitting on Terrawats of geothermal. Available 24x7 and more sustainable than wind or solar.

Re:A wind farm perhaps? (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year ago | (#44172297)

Sold back to the utility? No, they are cut off [oregonlive.com] ... Our energy/water management is absurd.

Re:What are the other 2,060 acres for? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44172127)

Presumably future expansion. It's all possible that if they wanted to buy land in that area, they might have to buy quite a bit more than they'd actually use.

Re:What are the other 2,060 acres for? (1)

kwbauer (1677400) | about a year ago | (#44172481)

But still... 137 acres to power a 2 acre facility? The facility is just under 1.5% of the used space possibly up to 2% when the parking lot is factored in.

That sounds like a horribly inefficient use of land. So much for being green.

Tax efficiency? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44171531)

Much has been said about how Apple avoids formally repatriating their foreign earnings to avoid or at least defer paying the US tax on those earnings (for which they already paid tax for in the foreign country).

I am wondering if this is some way of utilizing that money. If they buy solar panels and other renewable energy equipment using money earned outside the U.S. and then import the equipment, would they have to pay taxes on the imported equipment?

I know the U.S. imposed a duty on China solar panels, but if that is at least lower than the earnings repatriation tax, Apple would come out ahead.

Am I wrong?

Re:Tax efficiency? (1)

MrMickS (568778) | about a year ago | (#44174035)

Wouldn't they then get a dressing down for not using panels made in the US?

F+ irst (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44171585)

Morning. Now I have Had become li$ke

Kinda like how they power their Ipads with.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44171605)

Asian farms?

Which company does what now? (1)

Bremic (2703997) | about a year ago | (#44172105)

Does Apple have permission from Sun to do this?
What happens when there are too many iClouds making the sky dark?

You would have to be an Oracle to sort all this out.

Tuppe666 Apple bashing in 3.. 2..1.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44172123)

n/t

Basic information for.... (1)

meglon (1001833) | about a year ago | (#44172205)

... the silliest statement.

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

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concentrated_solar_power [wikipedia.org]

It always amazes me that people make the silly comment that solar power doesn't work when the sun goes down. I mean, seriously... these type of facilities have been in the movies for what...15-20 years now, and there's been working plants since 1984.

A kilowatt hour is not a kilowatt (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44174119)

"it will generate approximately 43.5 million kilowatt hours of electricity"

Really? How much will it generate the next day? I am sick and tired of reading "experts" writing about "energy" when they don't know the difference between a joule and a watt. Really, this stupidity is rampant.

Apple NSA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44174331)

Ahh now I see. It means Apple's Nevada Solar Array.

What is the temperature in Reno today? (1)

Squidlips (1206004) | about a year ago | (#44175249)

120F? What an idiotic place for a data center.

But when it rains... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44175333)

I can tell you that Apple's solar array in NC isn't doing SQUAT. For the past 45 days or so anyway it has been crazy cloudy here My array is off by about 60% from its normal production levels because it has been so rainy here lately. And it's just a little-un.

ridiculous typo (1)

slashmydots (2189826) | about a year ago | (#44177587)

"it will generate approximately 43.5 million kilowatt hours"
Uh no, it will generate approximately 43.5 killowatts. That's how you measure power generators. I don't know of any solar arrays that produce 43.5 million killowatt hours and then just run out and stop permanently. Now if they gave a time period like it can generate 43.5 million KWh in one day, that's a valid but needlessly 2-dimensional unit.
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