Apple’s Massive 100 Acre Solar Power Farm Producing 42 Million kWh’s A Year

By: | June 7th, 2013

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Apple’s website provides detailed information on its environmental footprint and their progress in reducing it. Estimates are Apple’s total carbon footprint was 30.9 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions in 2012. As is clear from the following chart Apple includes not only emissions from its facilities but uses a total life cycle analysis to determine the full extent of greenhouse gas emissions. Apple, as usual is a bit ahead of the game in taking this wide perspective approach; many manufacturers report only on their facilities.

Apple Builds Private Solar Array

Apple recently finished work on the world’s largest end user owned solar array to power its Maiden, North Carolina data center earning the company the LEED Platinum certification from the US. This is just the latest in a long line of renewable projects including solar, wind, hydro and geothermal that make Apple a world leader in percentage of renewables used by a company at 75%.

The new installation is a 100 acre, 20 megawatt (MW) facility capable of producing 42 million kWh of renewable energy a year.

Total Lifecycle Analysis

Apple is also a leader in the methods it uses to quantify and manage its carbon footprint.

Apple's Environmental Footprint

For Apple the product lifecycle includes manufacturing, transportation, use, and recycling of products and represents 98% of the carbon footprint. The remainder of emissions are classified as “facilities” and represent only 2% of the carbon footprint. Apple includes in its carbon emission estimates the extraction of raw materials and product assembly which makes up 61% of their total greenhouse gas emissions.

Naturally Apple must reduce their carbon footprint by improving product lifecycle performance: designing products with less material, reducing packaging, eliminating toxic substances, recycling, and being as energy efficient as possible. Apple also looks at its emissions in terms of kilograms of carbon dioxide (CO2) per dollar of revenues.

David Schilling

David lives in the North End of Boston, Massachusetts, and regularly visits MIT, Harvard, Boston University, Northeastern, Boston\’s leading companies and labs, the stacks at Boston Atheneaum and Boston Public Library to uncover and research story ideas. You can also find David on Google+.

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