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Power Hardware Apple

Apple Building Solar Farm In North Carolina 172

Posted by samzenpus
from the working-on-sunshine dept.
jfruhlinger writes "Apple's North Carolina data center will, it appears, be turning greener: the company is building a dedicated solar farm to power it. That would be a welcome turnaround for proponents of green energy, as Apple was lured to North Carolina in part by the promise of cheap electricity from coal-fired plants."
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Apple Building Solar Farm In North Carolina

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  • Yes but it will produce Apple electricity, which will only work with Apple products (such as the "licensed only" chargers for the iPhone). Sure it's possible to adapt the electricity to work with non-Apple products, but then they'll sue you for it.

    • but the power co can say you sell back the power and we can use it any way you want or we can cut you off and I don't think solar works at night.

      • by pecosdave (536896) *

        It's always been ok to convert non-Apple electricity to Apple electricity, that's why they license five volt adapters. [slashdot.org]

      • For a datacenter, I imagine they'll be using grid and solar together. What the solar can't supply, the grid does instead. That way you get the solar plant running continually at capacity, but aren't held back by the irregularity of weather.
    • by drolli (522659) on Sunday October 30, 2011 @12:57PM (#37886766) Journal

      moreover they will later claim that any company who offers solar electricity to charge mobile devices violates apples patents.

      • moreover they will later claim that any company who offers solar electricity to charge mobile devices violates apples patents.

        Oh, now come on. Why would they ever do that? :)

      • by Arlet (29997)

        Only if the solar energy is collected with rectangular panels.

    • by thestudio_bob (894258) on Sunday October 30, 2011 @03:33PM (#37887520)

      Not to be outdone, I heard MicroSoft purchased the land next to Apple's and are planning on building a wind farm. But because the wind doesn't blow there all the time, they've decided to forgo installing generators and instead put in motors so the fan blades move constantly. Do to this cost increase, they are offering sticker placement all over the structures for their preferred OEM's. Also, to get the public excited and to generate buzz, they've decided to use some of the land to hold weekly or monthly concerts. Ticket's go on sale one day before each event.

      Google, in the meantime, has come up with their own solution. They have built their own solar farm, which looks strikingly similar to Apple's, except the materials used are slightly cheaper quality. Anyone visiting the site will tracked throughout the complex (and some have even suggested they were tracked after leaving) and then blasted with offer's to buy cheap Viagra and tons of information regarding solar flares, the solar system, Solaris and the Southern Organization of Live Action Reenactments.

    • Since the power is going to the datacenter next door, you just KNOW they are going to use some special, proprietary power cable...

    • by pecosdave (536896) *

      FYI - two mod downs (as of typing this they haven't passed the mod ups)

      Link to the chain [slashdot.org]

      I'm going to keep a chain of these going to prove my theory, every time I get modded down for saying things critical of Apple. Yes there is a conspiracy theory - Apple fan boys working together. I actually have more than this to prove it, but I haven't dug them up yet.

  • Great (Score:2, Funny)

    by Osgeld (1900440)

    Now they are going to claim they invented the sun, and the stupid fucking patent office will grant it to them.

    • Now they are going to claim they invented the sun, and the stupid fucking patent office will grant it to them.

      Now, why on Earth would you say something like that? That's just..... insane. :)

    • by jonbryce (703250)

      I think Oracle would object to that patent.

  • Solar power... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by David_Hart (1184661)

    I applaud this move by Apple. I'm a big proponet of solar power. The more companies that integrate solar into their energy needs, the less expensive the technology becomes. It's finally getting to the point where an average homeowner can break even on an investment in solar.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by poofmeisterp (650750)

      I applaud this move by Apple. I'm a big proponet of solar power. The more companies that integrate solar into their energy needs, the less expensive the technology becomes. It's finally getting to the point where an average homeowner can break even on an investment in solar.

      If you made the price one that equaled or exceeded the current monthly/yearly expenditure on electric bills -AND- made the equipment affordable up-front, it would be a win-win.

      People are short-sighted these days with the economy being the way it is. They want to save money NOW, as well as save money long-term. Make it happen, that's your challenge.

      • I think that's what solarcity is claiming to do...

        There's a lot of hype, though and I wasn't able to figure out where all the money is supposedly coming from / going, so I'm suspicious of shenanigans...

    • by jackspenn (682188)
      You do know that green energy is the next economic bubble and Apple is an evil company, right?
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Surt (22457)

        The big advantage to green energy is that even if it is a bubble, you still accrue the long term benefits.

        • by mlts (1038732) *

          Bubble or no, it might be the impetus to get things shaken up in research in improving existing energy sources. Yes, I'm meaning nuclear. The problem is that virtually all reactors on line today are 1960s/1970s technology.

          To use a car example, it would be like using pushrod engines with breaker points and still fighting it out over cubic inches as opposed to better ignition systems, with no car maker wanting to use any engine design improvements in the past forty years like EFI or OHC.

          I'm hoping there is

          • by Pharmboy (216950)

            To me, nuclear should be part of the mid-term solution, to reduce coal to 10% (we have lots of coal, and will always have some coal plants), reduce natural gas to "on demand systems" only (nothing beats it except hydro), and while we are both developing wind and solar, AND finding more ways to reduce consumption. We are already expected to use less per person over the next decade, as more CFLs and energy efficient appliances and HVAC systems are being purchased. The key is a balanced approach that lets nu

          • The problem is that virtually all reactors on line today are 1960s/1970s technology.

            To use a car example, it would be like using pushrod engines with breaker points and still fighting it out over cubic inches as opposed to better ignition systems, with no car maker wanting to use any engine design improvements in the past forty years like EFI or OHC.

            Speaking of nuclear, do you know what kind of technology the planned new reactors at Plant Vogtle are going to use?

            • by Pence128 (1389345)
              They're using AP1000s. [wikipedia.org] They're a modern form of the old pressurized water reactors developed in the 50's for nuclear submarines. Boring, but cheap and safe.
    • HTH.

      "It's finally getting to the point where an average homeowner can break even on an investment in solar."

      Yeah, enough subsidies from the government you might be able to afford it as well.

      Sans subsidies, a decade or more.

      • by polar red (215081) on Sunday October 30, 2011 @01:34PM (#37886992)

        http://www.window.state.tx.us/specialrpt/energy/subsidies/ [state.tx.us]
        2.8% of energy subsidies go to solar. 20.2 to coal, 25.7 to oil and gas (not counting the war efforts of course ...)

        • by Colin Smith (2679)

          And 3 lines further down on the same page. You get a percentage of the price which is subsidised.

          Oil & Gas 0.5%
          Coal 6.9%
          Solar 12%

          As I said. Sans subsidies it takes decades to pay back the capital costs of a solar installation.

          Go on, run the figures yourself.

          How much does your heat & electricity cost per year?
          How much is the capital cost of an installation to satisfy your requirements?
          How many years would it take to pay the cost of solar from the difference between the price of grid and the "free" en

          • by polar red (215081)

            http://www.ieet.org/images/uploads/317rn2.jpg [ieet.org]
            http://unbridledspeculation.com/2011/03/17/the-exponential-gains-in-solar-power-per-dollar/ [unbridledspeculation.com]
            http://venturebeat.com/2010/01/14/germany-may-slash-solar-subsidies-by-17-stock-prices-drop-around-the-world/ [venturebeat.com]
            subsidies per Kwh are already dropping. they will go to zero in a few decades. Have you seen the same happening for oil, coal ?

          • > Not a good investment. Even worse if the money is borrowed to fund the installation.

            I agree that borrowing money is probably a poor choice for this stuff, but that's true in general for depreciating assets in general IMO.

            As for "bad investment" -- not so fast. We do not have to convert solar to electric for all applications; there is a real possibility to make solar energy cost-effective when you use it to heat your home.

            I'm currently looking at a product by CanSolair -- http://www.cansolair.com/produ [cansolair.com]

            • getting me to the break-even point in 40 years

              Are you counting any rate of return for your money in an alternate investment?

              assuming the cost of wood does not rise (which it will).

              Yeah, faster than the rate of inflation around here. I've seen it nearly double in about 10 years (currently $250). But then again, so have all the other commodities, so perhaps the price is stable, it's just the Dollar and wages which have tanked.

              I have 26 acres of forest as a backup plan.

            • by jvonk (315830)
              I believe you forgot to calculate your stove/fireplace efficiency [tulsamastergardeners.org], which will cause your calculations to significantly overstate the value of your firewood. Let's say you get 40% heating efficiency out of your hardwood.

              Also, the CanSolair spec sheet conflicts with unit conversion. 10,000 BTU/hr is 2900 W [google.com]. Their spec sheet lists 1200 – 2400 W, so let's use the 2400 W figure, though this was cited as being the noon-hour, highest output value. I am going to decline to calculate an integral for the tot
          • Hang on... First you say:

            You get a percentage of the price which is subsidised.
            Solar 12%

            Then you say:

            Sans subsidies it takes decades to pay back the capital costs of a solar installation

            But those two don't match up. If 12% of the price is subsidised, then without the subsidy it would cost 14% more. If the break even point is 10 years with the subsidy, then it would be 11.4 years without. For a small-scale home installation, the break even point is closer to seven years without subsidy, for a larger plant it can be anywhere from 2-5 years. Without the subsidy it would be a few months longer, not decades, unless the subsidies are closer to 80% of th

          • by haruchai (17472)

            Those costs are dropping which isn't likely to be the case for the fossil fuels plants. Even if carbon taxes are never enacted, the fossil fuels have greater externalized costs especially related to air quality, radioactivity ( for coal ) and other toxic emissions. Solar (PV, not thermal ) has some from the extraction processes for the raw materials but appear to be much less than coal and are getting better as the tech matures.

            The amount allocated to Coal, Oil and Ethanol are an embarrassment; also, I've

      • by kesuki (321456)

        we can see what that has done for corn and it's use to replace cane sugar, and gasoline.

        the problem is not that solar isn't practical, it's American living that isn't practical. how much plastic is in the average car? a barrel worth of oil right? and we make it look like leather, because leather is so much more sustainable, at least as long as we have McDonald's everywhere right? I've seen a fridge with leather texture on it because clearly some fictional animal eats iron and grows iron/steel skin.
        sustain

    • Re:Solar power... (Score:4, Informative)

      by Pharmboy (216950) on Sunday October 30, 2011 @02:27PM (#37887238) Journal

      The problem with the article, however, is talking about how dirty electricity is in North Carolina, and citing coal (yes it is, and yes we have them) and nuclear (which is not exactly dirty), but just a couple hours away are major hydro-dams, on High Rock, Tuckertown, Badin (Narrows) and Falls. Most of these were created up to 100 years ago for creating aluminum, which is no longer being manufactured here, so the power goes to the main grid. And hydro is as clean and 'on demand' as you can get. These aren't the only hydro-dams around here even. NC isn't the worst when it comes to pollution from power generation.

    • by aiken_d (127097) <brooks@tangent[ ]com ['ry.' in gap]> on Sunday October 30, 2011 @03:32PM (#37887518) Homepage

      Unfortunately, this may be a huge setback for solar power as thousands of Slashdotters are now obligated to hate it because of Apple's move.

  • by vlm (69642) on Sunday October 30, 2011 @01:11PM (#37886848)

    You sure the facts are correct? I am pretty sure Oracle bought Sun, not Apple.

    • You sure the facts are correct? I am pretty sure Oracle bought Sun, not Apple.

      So Apple is going to have to get a license from Oracle in order to use Sun's energy?

    • Apple is just investing in the Sun to encourage Oracle's lawsuits against Android.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    The amount of incoming solar radiation increases significantly the closer to the equator you are.

    I live in Toronto, Canada, and not long ago the provincial government here made a big deal about setting up a solar array here (of course, with a significant govt subsidy).

    A critic pointed out how much cheaper it would have been to buy land in Texas, set up a solar array, and send the power back (despite losses in transmission).

    But then the govt wouldn't have had the nice photo-op...

    • by polar red (215081)

      that's why europe is planning this : http://www.desertec.org/organization/ [desertec.org]

      • that's why europe is planning this : http://www.desertec.org/organization/ [desertec.org]

        Well, no, 'europe' [sic] isn't plannig any such thing. A private foundation in Germany is stumping the concept, seemingly in hopes that someone will bumble along and fund them so they can continue their quest for more funding to support more funding for political lobbying and re-education of doubters and dissenters as the to value of their plan for more funding.

        • by polar red (215081)

          So, Germany isn't in europe ?

          • Slashdot thinks you're an idiot.

            See what's wrong with the original statement now?

          • Since Germany isn't planning it either, what's your point? (Other than on top of your head since you're so ignorant you can't tell the difference between a private foundation and a sovereign nation.)

        • A private foundation in Germany is stumping the concept, seemingly in hopes that someone will bumble along and fund them so they can continue their quest for more funding to support more funding for political lobbying and re-education of doubters and dissenters as the to value of their plan for more funding

          Tis is only partly correct. First of all it is a european organization "Desert Tec" building it. Second of all they don't need "funding" as they have enough money to built it without it. Third of all cons

          • First of all it is a european organization "Desert Tec" building it.

            A 'European organization' isn't 'Europe' either.

            Second of all they don't need "funding" as they have enough money to built it without it.

            Since there isn't a 'it' they are building, rather than a concept they are stumping... (And since, right on their homepage they're asking for donations.)

            Third of all construction is starting in 2012 for the first plant

            Um, no. Construction is starting on a experimental demonstration conce

            • Um, no. Construction is starting on a experimental demonstration concept unit - not a 'plant' in any useful sense of the word.

              You are out of scope.
              A 1GW plant is a plant in a useful sense

              You, you ignorant pinheaded jackass.

              Thanx for the compliment, as long as you are an ignorant pinheaded jackass with his head in his ass, I don't mind ;D

        • by haruchai (17472)
          This may be a very good thing for North Africa, in light of the Arab Spring. They have young populations, with many unemployed or barely making a living, most of the desert is just sitting there, baking away, and they'll get desalinized water as part of the deal. Jobs and job training, energy and water and someone else is fronting the cost.
      • by kermidge (2221646)

        Thanks for the link; as mentioned below: [a group in] Europe is....

        I saw this a few months back; I'll be much more interested when I see several of these being built and used. Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya might be worthy places to start.

    • by AJWM (19027)

      The flaw there is that (1) photovoltaic cells are actually less efficient at higher temperatures -- an I know how much hotter Texas is than Ontario, and (2) down around Lake Erie you're as far south as (northern) California anyway; a few hundred miles won't make that much difference.

      But of course it's just PR, otherwise they'd be better off just adding another reactor to Bruce, Pickering or Darlington.

    • by Mashiki (184564)

      Yeah these are the same retards in the provincial government that "buy" power back at nearly 80c/KWH to put on the grid from green resources(specifically wind, and solar). And people wonder why the power rates continue to go up in Ontario. Ontario is pretty poor for anything outside of water based power generation. But the environuts don't want that, it might hurt the fish or something.

    • by couchslug (175151)

      They should invest in Texas solar, sell the power to the US grid, then send the MONEY back to Canada.

      No transmission losses at all.

      • by Mashiki (184564)

        Never happen outside of regular investments by people. Besides we have such a glut of power from nukes, coal, ng and hydro based that we sell 30-50% of it to the US now anyway.

    • by Khyber (864651)

      "The amount of incoming solar radiation increases significantly the closer to the equator you are."

      Plus, you need to go HIGHER. You get higher photon flux densities at higher elevations, plus colder temperatures.

  • by Animats (122034) on Sunday October 30, 2011 @01:32PM (#37886986) Homepage

    Typical high-density data center power consumption: 500w/m^2 for entire building, per floor.

    Max solar flux in NC about 1000w/m^2. But only for 6 hours a day on average. At 12% efficiency, that's 30 watts per square meter average. So the solar farm has to be 16x the size of the data center.

    We'll be able to see from the aerial photos whether they put in enough panels that it matters.

    • by Arlet (29997)

      They'll just stack them 16 layers thick.

    • Did you take into account the effect the solar panels (on the roof) will have on the temperature in the data center?
      If the panels are 15% efficient, the amount of energy reaching the roof decreases by 15% which should lead to a temperature drop.
      If the panels are mounted on frames above the roof, some additional energy will leak away as heat radiating from the panels will heat up the ambient air rather than the roof.
      This won't make much of a dent in the 16x figure, but dropping that to 13x (assuming a 20% lo

    • The output graph of the solar panels nicely tracks their power usage stats (assuming that AC is their biggest variable load). So the installation makes a dent in their peak power usage, which saves more money than the average price/kWh they pay would suggest.

    • Which has an environmental impact, though certainly nothing like putting coal exhaust in our breathing air.

      I don't understand why they're doing it this way. Green power is cheap in Iceland, there are three fiber trunks to the island, and cooling is easy.

      • Latency. You don't want to be hosting a datacenter for customers in North America in Europe (or vice versa) because the latency over the transatlantic link will slow everything down (not to mention cost a lot).
  • by Tibor the Hun (143056) on Sunday October 30, 2011 @02:07PM (#37887144)

    Greenpeace is going to have a shitfit over them using chemicals, and ./ers will claim that Apple will now claim they invented solar power.

  • by smash (1351)
    Are apple good or evil today. Wait, what am i saying, this is slashdot....
  • Fluorescent is wasteful, LED has gone past HID efficiencies. This will make those energy savings go even further.

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