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SunPower wins contract to build solar panels for Apple

updated 10:10 am EST, Wed March 7, 2012

Solar farm will help power North Carolina facility

A San Jose company, SunPower, has won the contract to build solar panels for the company's North Carolina datacenter, a filing with the state's Utilities Commission reveals. "Each of the photovoltaic installations will consist of multiple SunPower E20 435-watt photovoltaic modules on ground-mounted single axis tracking systems," the document reads. The solar farm is being built in phases, and could be ready to supply power in October.

It should ultimately span 100 acres, and produce about 42 million kWh of power per year. This will be enough to cover a "high percentage" of the datacenter's power requirements, according to Apple. Paired with a 5MW fuel cell farm, the solar panels should reduce the company's dependence on grid energy. The environmental group Greenpeace has, however, argued that just 8 to 10 percent of the datacenter's power will come from renewable sources, with the rest stemming from Duke Energy.

Duke operates eight coal and seven nuclear power plants. Greenpeace has attacked the datacenter more for the coal, since by proxy the building's intense demands could contribute to air pollution. Apple is not the only company with a datacenter in the region, though; Facebook and Google also operate facilities within a 45 minute radius.

by MacNN Staff



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