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Apple Expands Solar Capabilities; Greenpeace Applauds

Apple announced on Monday it has closed a deal to annex 100 acres in Claremont, NC for a new 17.5-megawatt solar farm, the construction of which is expected to cost some $55 million, according to Apple Insider.

The Hickory Daily Record reports that Apple's latest olar installation will bring 100 acres of land into the city's corporate limits and should generate roughly 75 jobs, which the company agreed to source locally. Construction of the farm is expected to be completed in five years.

The Claremont solar farm will be Apple's third such facility in the area surrounding its Maiden, NC iCloud data center, which itself boasts a 100-acre, 20-MW solar installation. In September 2012, the company purchased another 200 acres of land a few miles away in Conover, to be used for a second 20-megawatt farm.

Greenpeace has commended Apple, Facebook and Google for leading the way to a ‘green’ Internet by working to completely power their operations with clean energy, while at the same time calling out Amazon Web Services for continuing to lag in this area. In response to Apple’s latest announcement, Greenpeace’s Senior IT Analyst Gary Cook said:

“Apple’s latest investment in solar energy shows that it is committed to maintaining its record of powering the iCloud with 100 percent renewable energy. iCloud users should feel good knowing that clean, solar energy is powering their songs, videos and photos.

“Jeff Bezos should take notice of Tim Cook’s leadership as Apple proves that we can power our online lives with renewable energy, leaving Amazon further in the dust. With Amazon’s release of the new Fire smartphone and the associated growth in its photo storage, Amazon needs to commit to powering its data centers with 100 percent renewable energy, as its peers have done, or it risks becoming an even bigger polluter.”

According to Apple’s VP of Environmental Initiatives, Lisa Jackson, the company's data centers are powered by 100 percent renewables, as are 94 percent of its corporate structures. Jackson says the company’s next goal is to take Apple’s brick-and-mortar retail stores completely off the grid.

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