Apple is now taking their commitment to using Green IT a top priority with that growing cash horde. In their recent environmental update report, Apple announced a 100-acre solar farm next to its largest data center, in Maiden, North Carolina, became fully operational in December 2012.

With this announcement Apple now uses only renewable energy sources to power its data centers. The state of the art data centers now run on energy sources such as solar, wind and geothermal, instead of coal or other fossil fuels, according to a statement Apple made on its website. 

The data centers house server computers that store and distribute songs, applications and other content from services such as iTunes, iMessage and iCloud. These services represent a large growth area for Apple. 

According to recent Applie SEC filings, the sales from the iTunes Store, the App Store, the Mac App Store, and the iBookstore, and revenue from sales of AppleCare, licensing and other services continue to grow.

Previously, what was a business that Apple ran at slightly above break even, has become a major revenue source, generating $13.5 billion a year. That's more than the iPod line brings in, and at the rate it's growing -- 32% a year -- iTunes nay overtake the Mac business sometime this year. 

So finding a sustainable, efficient energy consumption solution for Apple an important goal.


This is truly a significant accomplishment because as recently as a year ago, Apple was targeted by Greenpeace International, which ranked Apple 12th out of 14 large technology companies in a report called “How Clean Is Your Cloud?”

 The environmental group, which held protests at Apple’s offices in Cupertino, California, charged Apple with relying on electricity from coal plants and gave Apple a grade of no better than D in the four categories it tracked.

“Increasing our use of renewable energy is our primary objective,” Peter Oppenheimer, Apple’s CFO, said in an interview with Bloomberg news. “We think these efforts will result in learnings that other companies and communities can benefit from as well.”

Apple’s announcement of their new data center energy initiatives should be used as a model for other large companies to replicate as they seek initiatives to reduce their carbon footprints.

In order to generate the required amount of electricity to operate the data center Apple installed a 100-acre solar farm adjacent to the facility in Maiden, North Carolina.

 With the solar array and a large installation of fuel cells made by Bloom Energy Corp, which convert biogases into energy, Apple said it met a goal of generating 60 percent of the energy for the data center on-site.

Apple also has a data center that is under construction in Prineville, Oregon. This data center will also run on local renewable energy sources such as wind, hydro, solar and geothermal power.

Apple now gets 75 percent of its total power from renewable sources, up from 35 percent a year ago. The company’s four largest office locations, in Ireland, Germany and two in California, now use 100 percent renewable energy sources, according to Apple.

Apple is not the only large tech firm looking to reduce their carbon footprint. Previously we reported on how Facebook builds their data centers in cold climates to reduce power cooling requirements and Google of course operates massive amounts of solar panels to run their operations.