Apple to Build its First Two Data Centers in Europe

By Todd R. Weiss  |  Posted 2015-02-23 Print this article Print
Apple, data centers

The two facilities will be built in Ireland and in Denmark and will each use 100 percent renewable energy, according to the company.

Apple will spend about $1.93 billion to build and run two brand-new data centers in Ireland and Denmark – the company's first-ever data centers in Europe – as part of a plan to continue to invest in renewable energy projects for its facilities around the world.

The company announced the new data center project on Feb. 23, less than two weeks after Apple unveiled plans to purchase $848 million worth of solar power in the United States for its corporate use over 25 years. The solar power will be purchased from a solar power facility that is being built in Arizona by First Solar. Apple announced that previous deal as part of its goal to combat climate change by cutting its reliance on fossil fuels.

The new European data centers will be built in Athenry in County Galway, Ireland, and in Viborg in Denmark's central Jutland, according to the company. The facilities will power Apple's online services, including the iTunes Store, the App Store, iMessage, Maps and Siri for customers across Europe, Apple reported.

"We are grateful for Apple's continued success in Europe and proud that our investment supports communities across the continent," Tim Cook, Apple's CEO, said in a statement. "This significant new investment represents Apple's biggest project in Europe to date. We're thrilled to be expanding our operations, creating hundreds of local jobs and introducing some of our most advanced green building designs yet."

Each of the new facilities will contain about 545,000 square feet of floor space and are expected to begin operations in 2017, according to Apple. Both centers will run entirely on clean, renewable energy sources. Apple will also work with local partners to develop additional renewable energy projects from wind or other sources to provide power in the future, the company stated.

"We believe that innovation is about leaving the world better than we found it, and that the time for tackling climate change is now," Lisa Jackson, Apple's vice president of environmental initiatives, said in a statement.  "We're excited to spur green industry growth in Ireland and Denmark and develop energy systems that take advantage of their strong wind resources. Our commitment to environmental responsibility is good for the planet, good for our business and good for the European economy."

Earlier in February, Apple announced that it will spend $848 million over the next 25 years to purchase solar power that will run all of its corporate offices, stores and other facilities in California. That deal between Apple and First Solar is the largest commercial solar agreement in the industry so far, according to First Solar. The plant is being built by Arizona-based First Solar and will be able to collect up to 280 megawatts of generation capacity from the sun through its solar panels at one time. Apple has signed a 25-year deal to use 130 megawatts of the plant's solar capacity once it is completed, according to the company. The 280,000 megawatt generation capacity of the entire solar facility will collect enough power from the sun to provide electricity for about 100,000 average-sized homes in California.

The construction of the California Flats Solar Project will start in mid-2015 and be finished by the end of 2016, according to First Solar. The facility will be built on some 2,900 acres in rural Monterey County, south of San Francisco. The remaining 150 megawatt solar capacity of the project will be sold to Pacific Gas & Electric under a separate long-term contract.

Apple is not the only Silicon Valley company to consider using solar and other forms of clean energy.

Google, which is a huge consumer of electricity for its modern data centers, offices and operations around the world, has been making large investments in wind power for its data centers since 2010 with a goal of powering its operations with 100 percent renewable energy in the future.

In January 2013, Google announced an investment of $200 million in a wind farm in western Texas near Amarillo, as the company continued to expand its involvement in the renewable energy marketplace. Google has also invested in the Spinning Spur Wind Project in Oldham County in the Texas Panhandle.

Other Google renewable energy investments include the Atlantic Wind Connection project, which will span 350 miles of the coast from New Jersey to Virginia to connect 6,000 megawatts of offshore wind turbines. Google’s Shepherds Flat project in Arlington, Ore. is one of the world's largest wind farms, with a capacity of 845 megawatts. Shepherds Flat began operating in October 2012.


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