Renewable Stories March 21, 2016

AAPL: 105.91

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Apple’s Vice President of environment, policy, and social initiatives, Lisa Jackson took to the stage to discuss the company’s latest numbers and initiatives in environmental protection. Jackson announced that 93% of its operations are running on renewable energy worldwide. A total of 23 countries, including United States and China are utilizing 100% renewable energy.

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Renewable Stories February 25, 2014

Crowdsource update: SunSprite, the solar-powered wearable aimed at geeks

With all the focus on skin cancer caused by too much exposure to sunlight, you might expect a UV-measurement gadget to be designed to warn you when you’ve spent too long in the sun. But no, the SunSprite has the opposite goal: it’s aimed at those who spend all their time indoors, and don’t get enough time in the sun. Or, to put it more concisely, geeks.

Sunlight plays a role in both mood and sleep patterns. The SunSprite measures exposure to both visible and UV light, and uses LEDs to indicate when you’ve met your daily goal of having spent enough time outside. It also communicates with a companion iPhone app. The retail price is a rather hefty $149, but early bird Indiegogo backers can get one for $89.

A neat thing about it is the same sunlight it measures also powers the device. The low energy requirements of the SunSprite mean that just a few minutes of sunlight provide enough energy to power the gadget for a week.

With some rumors suggesting that the iWatch may incorporate solar panels, perhaps this is one more health-based sensor Apple could include?

There’s a longer video that goes into more detail below.

Renewable Stories November 18, 2013

Report profiles Apple’s pioneering clean energy projects in North Carolina [photos]

GigaOM today published a lengthy piece on the state of the solar and fuel cell farm installations that Apple has been building in North Carolina in recent years.

After a visit to the 100-acre, 20 megawatt (MW) solar farm, 10MW fuel cell farm, and another 20 MW solar panel farm situated close to Apple’s North Carolina iCloud data center, the report gives a pretty in-depth look into Apple’s operations, from how its fuel cells work right down to the sheep that eat the grass on its solar farm:

The solar farm across from the data center has over 50,000 panels on 100 acres, and it took about a year to build the entire thing….Each solar panel on Apple’s farms has a microcontroller on its back, and the panels are attached to long, large trackers (the steel poles in the picture). During the day, the computers automatically and gradually tilt the solar panels so that the face of the panels follow the sun throughout the day. The above picture was taken in the late morning, so by the end of the day, the panels will have completely rotated to face where I was standing. The trackers used are single-axis trackers, which basically means they are less complex and less expensive than more precise dual-axis trackers.

You can see in the above picture that the grass is neatly maintained. Apple manages the grass under the panels in a variety of ways, but one of those is a little more unusual. Apple works with a company that ropes in sheep that eat the grass on a portion of the solar farm; when the sheep finish grazing on one spot, they’re moved to the next.

The site decided to take a look into Apple’s decision to take renewable energy into its own hands just as North Carolina utility Duke Energy is requesting that the state allow it to sell clean energy to large corporate customers. Google is one of the large companies interested in purchasing clean energy from the utility, but the hundreds of millions Apple has invested into its own renewable energy efforts have so far made it self-sufficient. The report notes Apple’s two solar farms, along with its fuel cell farm, are producing more than it needs to power its data center by around 10MW:

Apple’s second 20 MW solar panel farm, which is about 15 miles away from the data center near the town of Conover, North Carolina, is also up and running. All told, the three facilities are creating 50 MW of power, which is about 10 MW more than what Apple’s data center uses. Because of state laws, the energy is being pumped into the power grid, and Apple then uses the energy it needs from the grid. But this setup also means Apple doesn’t need large batteries, or other forms of energy storage, to keep the power going when the sun goes down and its solar panels stop producing electricity.

The full feature on GigaOM is worth checking out if you’re interested in Apple’s renewable energy projects.

Renewable Stories December 7, 2011

Today’s updated Apple Headquarters Spaceship campus plans include a roof made almost entirely out of solar cells, according to details released today. With a building as large as Apple’s, that puts it in the top corporate solar installations in the world and the biggest in the US.  The current title holder is the 4.26 MW system in Edison New Jersey and another being built by ToysRus in sunny NJ is rated 5.38MW

From today’s plans

From today’s plans, we can estimate the roof surface area to be over 750,000 square feet.  Assuming (conservatively) 2/3rds of that, or 500,000 square feet of that is utilized for solar, that gives Apple close to a 5MW installation on the amin building alone. On average or as a general “rule of thumb” modern photovoltaics (PV) solar panels will produce up to 10 watts per square foot of solar panel area.  Since Cupertino is generally favorable in terms of weather and Apple will obviously use the latest Solar technology developed in the coming years, that could give Apple over 5,000,000 Watts of power to play with.  Additionally, Apple has a few other buildings on campus that could be outfitted with solar roofs. The plans list a photovoltaic roof canopy of 320,000 sq.ft. just on the parking building. expand full story

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