Apple’s Oregon Data Server: If A Green Cloud Rumbles And No One Hears It, Does It Make A Sound?
You can say whatever you want about Apple, Android vs iOS, iPad or Samsung Galaxy, but where you have to give it to them is in the genuine effort they have put into going green. Their data centers in Cork, Ireland, Austin, Texas, Sacramento, California and Munich, Germany have already made the switch to 100% renewable energy and the new data center that they have started building in Oregon promises to be “every bit as environmentally responsible as our Maiden data center”.
You may argue that they are only giving in to the pressures that Green Peace and other such nonprofit organizations are putting on them but then again these organizations have been putting pressure on ever other company as well and very few have reacted as promptly as Apple.
If we were to look at the Maiden data center we would see that it currently pulls in 20 megawatts of electricity when it’s working at full capacity. And that energy is developed by a 100 acre, 20 megawatt solar array that was built on the same site as the data center. There is a second array being built that will encompass a similar area and will provide the same amount of energy. Together they will be producing 84 million kilowatt-hours of electricity every year. And because solar panels are very much dependent on the sun Apple is also scheduled to finish building a 5 megawatt fuel cell on the same site. The cell is also green since it is using biogas to generate electricity and has the advantage of being able to start generating at maximum capacity at any moment.
Apple’s efforts to go green with their massive power sucking data centers is also beneficial to many of the green power companies in the area because their “in house” production of electricity only covers about 60% of their needs. So, in order to stay completely eco friendly, they are sourcing the rest of the energy they need from local and regional companies that are obviously excited about the partnership with one of the most renowned companies in the world.
What is even more impressive about Apple’s efforts to keep a green profile about their iCloud support is that they are also implementing eco measures in the way they run their data centers. And the reason why that is so impressive is that these are the kind of measures that very few of the other data centers are willing to implement since they prefer to run at maximum performance all of the time. Apple’s Maiden facility is already using passive air cooling for almost 75% of the time, variable speed fans for when they do need to use them, a white cool-roof design and a chilled water system that will further help to keep the temperatures as low as possible.
Should we all start singing praises to the green policies Apple is setting in place? Maybe and maybe not! There are debates built on other debate built on what going green really means but it is only when you compare them with what the other major data centers are doing that you begin to realize just how small Apple’s carbon footprint really is. And for that reason alone they have our utmost respect.
By Luchi Gabriel Manescu
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