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National spotlight on Maiden

 

Contruction equipment continues work on a massive solar farm Apple is developing on the east side of Startown Road in Maiden. U.S. 321 is seen in the distance.

 

Tech giant Apple boasts of solar farm under construction

SARAH LOWERY

Staff Writer

Apple plans to build at 100-acre solar array to surround and power its new data center off Startown Road in Maiden, just north of the Lincoln-Catawba County line, the tech giant revealed Monday when it released its annual facilities report and environmental update.

While not exactly a secret locally, with permits filed and construction well under way, the national revelation is getting broad attention this week, including discussion in a Time Magazine website article.

The company knows of “no other data center of comparable size that has achieved this level of LEED certification,” the company says of the energy-efficient center, which was commissioned in last year. The U.S. Green Building Council has awarded the facility plan its coveted Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum certification.

Apple has “embarked on an industry-leading renewable energy program” in order to meet the energy needs of the Maiden facility, which will include the new solar array as well as a fuel-cell installation, the company states.

The solar farm will be, according to the facilities report, the “nation’s largest end user-owned, onsite solar array.” Upon completion, it will supply 42 million kWh of energy annually.

An article on the CNET News website is reporting that the company received approval in October, according to permits issued in Catawba County, to prepare the 171 acres of vacant land it owns adjacent to the data center for the solar farm project.

Additionally, the company says it is planning to build a 5-megawatt fuel cell installation directly adjacent to the data center to go online later this year. The report states that it will be the “largest nonutility fuel cell installation operating anywhere in the country.”

“Apple is committed to pursuing energy-efficient growth by increasing our renewable energy participation to match the growing needs of our data center — through our own projects as well as partnerships with utilities and renewable energy providers,” the company said in its report.

Nonetheless, there are those skeptical of just how “green” Apple is.

An online article of Time Magazine states that the announced projects are just part of the company’s attempts to improve its environmental image and references a Greenpeace report finding that the electricity generation mix in North Carolina is among the “dirtiest” in the country.

 

Access to Apple’s data farm on the west side of Startown Road is controlled by a tight security perimeter.

 

Images courtesy of Ray Gora / Lincoln Times-News

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