Charlotte Observer is reporting that Apple has begun work building a 174 acre solar farm to power their new Maiden, North Carolina data center. The data center, located in Catawba County, was revealed by Steve Jobs during the iOS 5 keynote at WWDC this year, and will be partly responsible for powering iCloud. It was revealed earlier this year that Apple was purchasing land around the data center. Now we know why.

Permits issued by Catawba County show that the Cupertino, Calif., company has been approved to reshape the slope of some of the 171 acres of vacant land it owns on Startown Road, opposite the data center, in preparation of building a solar farm.

The solar farm will spread across 171 acres outside of the data center, which originally cost Apple $1 billion to build.

The plans are called “Project Dolphin Solar Farm A Expanded.” Project Dolphin was the code name given Apple’s plans to build a $1-billion data center in Maiden.

There are no specific details on who exactly will be building the solar farm. For Apple, and many other companies, it has become important to build data centers with clean energy. Google is one of the companies that does this very well, and it looks like Apple is headed that way too.

via GigaOM

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