Apple confirms plans for solar farm

Apple Inc. says it will build one of the nation’s largest solar arrays to power its Maiden data center.

In a brief update to its environmental impact report, Apple announced Monday that it plans to power the Maiden data center with the nation’s largest end-user-owned solar array and non-utility fuel cell installation.

Apple hinted in October 2011 that it wanted to build a solar array across from its data center, filing for an erosion control permit for more than 170 acres of land at 6028 Startown Road. In the permit, it described the project as “Solar panel farm A.”

Since then, Apple has hired contractors to clear and resurface the land directly across from its Maiden data center, even adding 10 additional acres to the project’s total acreage in February, according to the permit.

Now, Apple says it will in fact use a solar array to power the data center, a facility that recently earned Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

“Our new data center in Maiden, N.C., demonstrates our commitment to reducing the environmental impact of our facilities through energy-efficient, green building design,” Apple said on its online environmental impact report. “We know of no other data center of comparable size that has achieved this level of LEED certification. Our goal is to run the Maiden facility with high-percentage renewable energy mix.”

Apple prides itself on using sustainable energy and maintaining a low carbon footprint.

In 2010, for example, the company was responsible for about 14.8 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions. Its facilities, including the Maiden data center, accounted for 2 percent of those emissions, according to Apple’s website.