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Power Earth Hardware Apple IT

Apple's North Carolina Data Center Will Feature Biogas Generators 68

1sockchuck writes "Apple's North Carolina data center will tap landfills for biogas, which will then be converted into electricity using fuel cells from Bloom Energy. The 24 'Bloom boxes' will have a capacity of 4.8 megawatts of power, and along with a large solar array, will provide Apple with a significant on-site generation of sustainable energy. Microsoft is also developing biogas-powered data plants where modular data centers will be housed near water treatment plants and landfills. GigaOm has a useful primer on biogas in data centers, as well as video of the new higher capacity Bloom boxes that will support Apple's server farm."
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Apple's North Carolina Data Center Will Feature Biogas Generators

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  • by ( 771661 ) on Tuesday May 01, 2012 @03:42AM (#39854809) Homepage Journal
    Our company has several Bloom boxes. Natural gas in, electricity out. They're -very- noisy, and you can can see soot forming around exhaust vents on the top. Are they really fuel cells, or...gas turbine generators? Gas-fired boiler heats H2O to steam, pushes it through a turbine mechanical generator, H2O condenses. This would explain the noise and the soot.

    Anybody seen the insides of a Bloom box?

  • Al Gore connection? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by srussia ( 884021 ) on Tuesday May 01, 2012 @03:56AM (#39854841)
    Gore is an Apple board member and a partner of Bloom Energy owner Kleiner Perkins.
  • by stomv ( 80392 ) on Tuesday May 01, 2012 @05:46AM (#39855151) Homepage

    Dude -- think for a few more seconds.

    1. They are almost certainly connected to the grid. Just like residential solar cells, a building can be BOTH connected to the grid AND have on-site renewable generation.

    2. Apple is paying the industrial retail rate for electricity, not the cost the utility would pay. Sure, PV and biogas might not be purely economic for the utility in 2012, but they may well be for Apple because Apple's avoided cost is so much higher than the utility's.

    3. North Carolina has an RPS -- a Renewable Portfolio Standard. Most states do. The utilities are required to purchase enough certificates so that X% of their retail sales have accompanying certificates, each of which represents 1 MWh of renewably-produced electricity. Apple's equipment will generate these, and Apple will sell them on the market to the utilities, generating even more revenue.

    4. Low power lighting and better cooling tech are not mutually exclusive to renewable energy. You can bet that Apple is *also* employing technology which lowers their consumption of electricity for both lighting and cooling.

    Apple isn't getting rich on this stuff. They're not getting rich on the vending machines in the break rooms either. It doesn't mean that they're relying on them for critical business purposes, and it doesn't mean they're taking a loss on them. In fact, it's almost certainly the contrary -- this will in no way reduce their data center reliability, and it will result in slightly lower costs than just relying on grid electricity.

Don't get suckered in by the comments -- they can be terribly misleading. Debug only code. -- Dave Storer