“North Carolina will be home to the nation’s largest private fuel cell energy project, a nonpolluting, silent power plant that will generate electricity from hydrogen,” Jeff Willhelm reports for The Charlotte Observer.

“Apple (yes, that Apple) filed its plans with the N.C. Utilities Commission last week to build the 4.8-megawatt project in Maiden, about 40 miles northwest of Charlotte,” Willhelm reports. “That’s where Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple has built a data center to support the company’s iCloud online data storage system and its Siri voice-recognition software.”

Willhelm reports, “The fuel cell project, the nation’s largest such project not built by an electric utility company, will be developed this year. It will be located on the same data complex that will host a planned 20-megawatt solar farm – the biggest ever proposed in this state.”

“The facility will consist of 24 fuel cell modules. It will extract hydrogen from natural gas supplied by Piedmont Natural Gas. But it’s not clear how much gas will be required,” Willhelm reports. “To qualify as a renewable facility, Apple or Bloom will arrange to produce landfill methane gas or some other biogas to offset its natural gas use. The biogas supplier has not been named, but that information will have to be disclosed to win approval from the N.C. Utilities Commission.”

Willhelm reports, “Apple currently has a 500,000-square-foot data center on the 11.5-acre site. Construction recently began on a second building on the campus, but whether it will be another data center or a building related to the fuel cell investment is unclear.”

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