With its laptops, iPads, and smart phones, Apple played a crucial role in decentralizing data computation and communication. Now Apple is boosting decentralization of the power grid, as it becomes a power company.
To power its servers, Apple is installing America's largest solar array behind the meter or at a premise as well as an enormous fuel cell farm. See the pictures from North Carolina at:
Apple's solar farm will be 20 megawatts. Enormous. Prior to Apple's on-site solar system, the record for the biggest distributed solar system was 9 megawatts on a gargantuan roof in New Jersey.
In addition to the solar system, Apple is installing 4.8 megawatts of Bloom fuel cells, a truly disruptive technology, that generates power around the clock where the electricity is consumed. Unlike solar, at least without very expensive storage systems, fuel cells create the real possibility of economically and reliably dropping off the grid.
While fuel cells generally run on natural gas, Apple's fuel cells in North Carolina will run on biogas, further cutting the facilities environmental and carbon footprints.
How much electricity will the solar and fuel cells produce? A total of 82 million kilowatt-hours per year, with the solar array generating 42 million kilowatt-hours per year and the fuel cells another 40 million kilowatt-hours per year. That's the equivalent of the power consumed by about 8,200 homes in a year.
All that generation will help to power its North Carolina facility and is another huge example of the revolutionary grid decentralization that is roaring through the power industry.