14-04-2014, 12:38 #1
[EN] Apple Buys Hydro Power Facility
Apple has acquired a hydroelectric power facility not far from its data center in Prineville, Oregon, according to reports in local media. The deal could provide additional renewable energy for the Apple server farm, continuing the company’s effort to improve the sustainability of its data center operations.
The 45 Mile Hydroelectric Plant had been under development by EBD Hydro. But in December, the project was transferred to Apple, according to reports in the Bend Bulletin and Oregon Live.
Initial estimates projected that the 45 Mile Hydroelectric plant would generate between 3 and 5 megawatts of power. That’s not very much for a large data center user like Apple, which could require 30 to 40 megawatts of power to support its campus at full capacity. It’s not clear whether an operator with Apple’s resources could boost that output.
Apple has committed to supporting 100 percent of its energy use in Prineville with renewable resources, and is approaching its goal in several ways, including the purchase of non-coal power. “Oregon allows the direct wholesale purchase of renewable energy through Direct Access, and Apple is using this program to opt out of the default grid mix and directly access enough local renewable wind energy to power the entire facility,” the company says, adding that it “actively working on other renewable energy options.”
The Prineville campus is part of a major expansion of Apple’s data center capacity that began with the opening of a 500,000 square foot data center in Maiden, North Carolina in 2010. The company is building new server farms in Prineville and Reno, Nevada and rumored to be planning more in Hong Kong and perhaps Europe as well.
The hydro project is located at a concrete drop structure of the North Unit Irrigation District’s main irrigation canal in Jefferson County, Oregon. The design calls for the facility to divert water out of the canal for approximately half a mile before running it through a hydroelectric turbine and discharging it back into the canal.
14-04-2014, 12:40 #2
Apple taking over Jefferson County hydro project
Water diverted from canal could help power Prineville data center
By Scott Hammers / The Bulletin
Published Apr 12, 2014 at 12:01AM
A Bend company that had proposed a hydroelectric project in Jefferson County has transferred its property to Apple, suggesting the computing giant may be looking to start generating power for its Prineville data center.
Chris Gaither, a spokesman for Apple, said while the company will not comment specifically on the deal with EBD Hydro, Apple has made running its facilities on renewable power a priority. The Prineville data center is run largely on wind power purchased from utilities, he said, and in the company’s 2013 Environmental Footprint Report, Apple states it plans to employ solar and micro-hydro power in the future.
The 45-Mile Hydroelectric Project, first proposed in 2010 by EBD Hydro of Bend, would be located on the North Unit Irrigation District’s main canal, 45 miles downstream from the intake and about 2 miles north of Haystack Reservoir. As originally envisioned, the project would divert water out of the canal for approximately half a mile before running it through a hydroelectric turbine and discharging it back into the canal.
In 2011, EBD Hydro estimated the project would generate 3 to 3.5 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 2,100 to 2,450 homes.
Filings in the Federal Register indicate EBD Hydro transferred the property related to the hydro project to Apple in November. Representatives of EBD Hydro could not be reached for comment on Friday.
In 2011, EBD Hydro received a $7.2 million federal loan guarantee for the hydro project and was anticipating construction would begin before the end of that year.
14-04-2014, 12:42 #3
Apple acquires hydroelectric project near its Prineville data center
By Mike Rogoway
on April 12, 2014 at 8:30 PM, updated April 12, 2014 at 10:28 PM
Apple has taken over a small hydroelectric project at a Central Oregon site near the company’s new data center in Prineville.
Big data centers like the one Apple has just opened in Prineville use huge volumes of electricity – as much as a small city – to power thousands of computers that hold photos, music and all manner of other digital information.
Apple, like other leading data center operators, says it plans to power its data centers entirely with renewable energy. Currently, Apple says it buys “local renewable wind energy” for its Prineville facility. The company has explored the possibility of acquiring land for a huge solar array, like one it operates in North Carolina, but has indicated it may pursue other options instead.
The Bulletin newspaper in Bend first reported Apple’s interest in the 45-Mile Hydroelectric Project, which is near Haystack Reservoir, about 20 miles northwest of Prineville. It’s in a Jefferson County irrigation canal, screened from fish runs.
The project’s previous owner, EBD Hydro, won $7 million in federal loan guarantees and a $1.5 million federal grant to help finance its construction. The company had planned to start work late in 2011; it’s not clear if the facility is operating yet -- Apple declined comment, and EBD did not immediately responded to inquiries on the deal.
Prior proposals had described the project as generating 3 to 5 megawatts. That’s enough to power roughly 2,000 to 3,500 homes, but big data centers can exceed 30 megawatts – and really large complexes require significantly more than that.
Additionally, plans called for taking the 45-mile project offline when the irrigation canal is shut in the winter months. So Apple’s hydro deal would apparently provide a tiny portion of the company’s electricity requirements.
Many of the biggest Internet companies operate data centers in Oregon, including Facebook, Amazon and Google. They’re drawn in part by the region’s relatively low power prices, and to a much greater extent by tax exemptions on their expensive computers. A big data center can cost $1 billion or more to equip.