The Charlotte Observer says that the county has approved permits for Apple to reshape about 171 acres of vacant land that it owns across from the data center, for the purpose of building a solar array. The permits don’t offer any details about the solar plant itself.
The company had been keeping mum on the plans – with even the Catawba County economic development chief, who helped bring Apple to Maiden, first hearing about the solar plant from reporters.
The Miami Herald said work to prepare the land for construction has already started, angering some residents. Apple contractors are burning brush, and neighbors said smoke and ash are drifting across their properties 24 hours a day.
Project Dolphin opened this spring. At 500,000 square feet, it is five times the size of Apple’s data center in Newark, Calif., and helps support the company’s iCloud service.
Greenpeace had criticized Apple for locating the data center in North Carolina, whose electricity mix is 61 percent coal and 31 percent nuclear, and less than five percent “clean energy.” In April the company got the worst ratings in a Greenpeace report, How Dirty is Your Data?, which compared ten major IT companies. The non-profit said the North Carolina data center will consume as much as 100 MW of electricity, or the equivalent of 80,000 U.S. homes.
Apple’s solar plans can be viewed on the Apple Insider blog.