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Tuesday, March 06, 2012, 11:15 pm PT (02:15 am ET)

Apple's solar farm will have high-efficiency panels, to open as soon as October

A regulatory filing shows that Apple's solar farm for powering its server farm in Maiden, N.C., will utilize high-efficiency panels from SunPower and could begin operation as early as October.

The San Jose Mercury News uncovered Apple's filing, which reportedly reveals that San Jose-based SunPower had won the contract, on Tuesday. Apple apparently plans to self-finance the project and is aiming for at least 14 photovoltaic installations on the solar farm.

"Each of the photovoltaic installations will consist of multiple SunPower E20 435-watt photovoltaic modules on ground-mounted single axis tracking systems," the Cupertino, Calif., company's filing with the North Carolina Utilities Commission read.

Both Apple and SunPower declined to comment on the report.

Apple did, however, reveal last month in a Facilities Environmental Report that its North Carolina facilities will represent the largest solar and fuel cell end user-owned plants in the U.S. when they are finished. According to the company, the data center will draw a "high percentage" of renewable energy for its power needs.

Data Center


Using Apple's own figures, environmental activist group Greenpeace has estimated that the solar farm and fuel cell installation will provide just 9.8 percent of the data center's energy demands.

People familiar with the matter indicated to AppleInsider last year that Leaf Solar Power would also be involved in the project, though the company's exact involvement was not immediately apparent. Bloom Energy is believed to be providing the fuel cells for the facility.

Apple's Maiden data center is a 500,000 square-foot facility and the largest in the region. The company has said the server farm supports its iTunes and iCloud services.

Last month, Apple revealed plans to build another "green" data center, this time in Prineville, Oregon. The company declined to confirm further details of the project, though country records show that Apple has purchased a 160-acre plot of land for $5.6 million.