Apple building huge solar farm around its billion-dollar North Carolina data center

“Apple has quietly begun work on a solar farm that apparently could help power its sprawling data center in southern Catawba County,” Dianne Straley reports for The Charlotte Observer.

“Permits issued by Catawba County show that the Cupertino, Calif., company has been approved to reshape the slope of some of the 171 acres of vacant land it owns on Startown Road, opposite the data center, in preparation of building a solar farm,” Straley reports. “Apple did not immediately respond to an email from The Observer with questions about the solar farm. But the company’s website says Apple prides itself on using sustainable energy in some of its facilities. Its plants in Austin, Texas; Sacramento, Calif.; and Cork, Ireland, are 100 percent powered by renewable energy.”

Straley reports, “The engineering plans show how the company will keep soil that it moves around the site from washing into creeks and other areas. The permit has no detail about the solar farm itself, including its size… The plans are called ‘Project Dolphin Solar Farm A Expanded.’ Project Dolphin was the code name given Apple’s plans to build a $1-billion data center in Maiden.”

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Arline M.” and “Edward Weber” for the heads up.]


  1. Another thoughtful Apple business plan that addresses modern day business, energy and environmental issues. With this kind of planning they could move their Chinese plants here and operate them clean. Granted a lot of those plant jobs don’t pay a lot but there are a lot of people out there making squat or nothing anyway.

  2. What a waste of prime North Carolina real estate. All in the name of political correctness. They’ll add a few KW to the grid during the day, when it isn’t cloudy, or raining, or snowing.

    Are they planning to turn off their server farm when their solar plant can’t provide power? Or they going to rely on local power companies, financed by the public, to power their servers?

    If Apple built their own 2 GW nuke next to their data center, then they’d have enough energy to run their servers.

      1. Nah, Gary is just pissed because he actually wanted Apple to strip 5,000 acres next door to his single-wide and mine still more of the filthy coal that provides so much of the electricity in the United States. Then he could star as a gap-toothed, tobacco-chewing Happy Neighbor, Mr. Oxy Moron, in ads for Clean Coal.

    1. Prime real estate?!? That’s farmland at best. Maybe worth $6000 an acre.

      I’m not a big fan of solar panels as they are not yet efficient enough, but your comments are silly.

      1. Good points. The thing about many early stage technologies is that it takes users to create the market needed to improve the product. This not only helps to grow a technology that can be part of the solution in developed countries, but increases jobs and expertise in the US. I know GOPers like Gary hate for jobs to be created and for money to be spent on research and development.

        1. How’s them Solandra jobs working out for you?

          Pretty much proves that solar technology is immature and can’t be productized anytime in the near future without taxpayer subsidy.

          Keep on hoping for change in the laws of physics, Dummycrat.

    1. It’s not that so many Americans won’t consider ecology – it’s just for most people, going green is not practical.

      If a company like Apple wants to spend it’s money to partially supply it’s own power at its expense, more power to Apple.

      However, for the average taxpayer, the green initiative has turned out to be a very expensive boondoggle that will only increase our utility bills and increase our national debt.

      We need more private enterprise to spur innovation to come up with an environmentally friendly source of energy that scales, has a high density of stored energy, is reliable and not weather dependent, and can be produced at cost competitive rates.

      Until we have such a source, we shouldn’t be investing billions into wasteful green initiatives that have no payback. And yes, that includes wind energy too. Just ask T. Boone Pickens about it.

      1. “the green initiative has turned out to be a very expensive boondoggle”

        …and the oil/coal/nuke industries with their multi-trillion dollar wars, environmental disasters, toxic excretions… those are all awesome and cheap at twice the price.

      2. @theLedger
        the is so much wrong with what you have written.
        1. new power source, but you don’t want any investment into it cos it is a boondoggle. dumb
        2. trying to protect the environment increases your cost of living, well of course dummy
        3. apple supplying power at its own expense
        what you mean getting free power for 30 years is bad somehow?

        The article mentions apples plants that are 100 percent powered by renewable energy, not just sunny days, can you really be that dumb…

        …everytime, i am amazed at american stupidity
        The true cost of fossil fuels will be paid sooner or later

        america needs to think like steve in every area, then you will live in paradise, not a shitty 3rd rate republic

        1. No matter how you look at it, the sun doesn’t shine, the wind doesn’t blow and the tidal bores don’t flow 24/7/365. We are virtually out of rivers to damn. Renewable power can’t do it by itself.

          You have to have massive battery farms or a back-up source. Only natural gas turbines can start up in minutes.

          You end up with power costing two to three times as much and still producing massive amounts of carbon dioxide.

          Why bother with this bullshit. Build nuclear power plants or shut the fuck up.

          1. Words of wisdom.

            Solar will never provide enough power to replace fossil or nuclear fueled energy plants. No way to store what energy it can produce for nighttime use. At best it can reduce the amount of fossil fuel used, at great expense.

  3. Lets hope they are going to use high quality solar panels and not the cheap ones that are now falling apart after 1-2 years.
    Not to mention dropping 2 – 9% in efficiency in the first year and 4% each year after that.

  4. Kudos to Apple for building a solar array but consider how much real estate is necessary just to develop 1 or 2 kW of power?

    Until solar panel efficiency dramatically improves, degradation slows, and costs decrease, it’s not going to be a widespread source of alternative energy.

    We still are going to have to invest in making current carbon energy sources more efficient and clean.

    1. Actually, about half of the roof of a two-car garage is enough real estate to develop 3.5 kW of power. That’s the size of my solar array in my back yard — and that’s using the technology from about 10 years ago. Today’s panels are a bit more efficient, and I haven’t had any problems with panels “falling apart” or dropping dramatically in efficiency.

      Considering the true cost of our national energy policy is heavily subsidized by our military budget (you think we’re in the Mideast because we care about Israel? Please.), the move to solar is not only environmentally sound but it’s a great long-term investment.

    2. Like any technology, solar power will get cheaper as the market grows. Projects like these help move the industry forward by providing much needed revenue.
      And like any technology the efficiency and durability will get better over time.
      Cutting our reliance on fossil fuels will not involve just one approach but many. Solar is one of those, wind another.
      Just look how computers and phones have changed over the past 20 years. Back in 1991 I was writing my thesis on a Mac Classic. Now an MBP can be purchased for the same price.

  5. You know, I’ve rarely seen Apple make a really stupid move since SJ returned in 1997. I’m willing to bet that their decision to go with 100% renewable energy at their various plants is not only a sound strategy but more than likely well executed as well.

    Just a thought.

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