Apple Buys Bloom Fuel Cells, Promises 100% Green Data Centre


Apple is using Bloom’s fuel cells in North Carolina, and says a new plant in Oregon will use 100 percent renewable power

Apple has confirmed it is using fuel cells from Bloom Energy, which consume methane generated by rotting waste in landfills, to power a data centre. The iPhone maker has also promised its next data centre will be “100 percent” powered by renewable energy.

Apple’s data centre in Maiden, North Carolina has a large solar array and the firm is planning to use fuel cells there. These cells will come from Bloom Energy, the startup which is pitching its fuel cell “Bloom boxes” as a renewable source of data centre power independent of the grid.

Renewables all the way

Apple’s Bloom boxes will be getting their methane from rotting matter in landfill sites, the company has announced, confirming speculation that Apple would be competing with Google for north Carolina’s pig manure.

Landfills were named as a good source of methane in a recent Microsoft report which suggested data centres should be co-located with landfills or sites where agriculatural waste is processed to produce methane.

That idea has been put into practice by Infinity, which announced the availability of data centre space powered by biogas-fuelled electricity, at its Martlesham site on the former RAF Bentwaters.

Apple has also confirmed rumours that it will build another new data centre, this time in Prineville, Oregon. However, Facebook risked the wrath of Greenpeace for using a mix of “dirty power” from coal and nuclear, p[rovided by local utility PacfiCorp.

Apple has promised its Prineville plant will use only renewable power. The company has given no details on how this will be done, although more biogas seems likely. It has said the data centre will cost $250 million (£154 million), and involve paying $150,000 a year to the local government, in return for a fifteen year property tax exemption.

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