Apple’s New Solar Farm Eats Up 107 Football Fields [Video]


This land will soon be engulfed by a mammoth solar farm that will power Apple's data center.
This land will soon be engulfed by a mammoth solar farm that will power Apple's data center.

Apple’s plans to build a giant solar farm in Maiden, North Carolina, to power its new data center are well underway. The new building will require a 20 megawatt array of solar panels to create enough power, and that’s going to take up over 171 acres of land, or 107 NFL football fields. This aerial footage gives you a sense of just how huge the facility will be.

Some people will go to great lengths to catch a glimpse of Apple’s work in progress, and that includes flying a helicopter above its solar farm to see just how big it is. This video, shot by Five 9s Digital, shows the progress Apple has already made on the facility:


The new facility will become the world’s largest solar array dedicated to data center operations, according to Data Center Knowledge, surpassing the 14 megawatt array that supports the McGraw-Hill data center in East Windsor, New Jersey. However, some believe solar power for data centers isn’t such a great idea.

James Hamilton of Amazon Web Services says that he wonders whether solar farms are really a mix between a “bad idea and pure marketing.” He believes the environmental impact and the economics of these giant facilities may not justify their purpose.

  • techgeek01

    Nuclear energy is probably the better choice.  Then you don’t need to tear up huge acres of land to put all your solar panels.

    Solar panels are good, but here it’s pure marketing.  Basically it’s just so that x or y company can claim that they are “green” or going “greener”.

    Build a nuclear reactor, you’ll making plenty of energy to not just power these giant facilities, but the towns/cities around these facilities.

    And before we go on that nuclear energy isn’t safe, literally all the current plants are extremely outdated.  The newer plants are far more safer, and the waste they would produce would be far, far, less radioactive.  Also, in almost all cases these nuclear plant accidents were caused because of human error. They knew that there were stuff wrong with the reactor, but did nothing.  Mainly not going in and repairing what the KNEW needed to be repaired.  And the nuclear “accident” on Japan?  That was a freak nature accident. Stuff like that do happen. 

  • facebook-100000548154512

    What would be interesting from a news perspective on this subject would be some investigation of local zoning rules/laws as to what environmental impact statement was required if any, what it states if it was required and long term projections of the impact of building such a site and then also some commentary on the potential employment perspective – how many jobs does it add to the local economy – and the added tax revenue, if any, afforded to the local community.

  • Michael Rygaard

    1) stuff like that happens and millions die, or it make an area 1000x the field were they make solar installations uninhabitable — but yes fare better than solar.. ??

    2) have you any (no you have not ) idea how much it cost to build a nuclear power plant ?

    3) have you considered that in general it take 8+ years from you start to plan till you have a power plant that work

    4) what would they need all that power for ?

    But yes nuclear is fare better than coal power if we just did not have all thous stupid humans operate them… and if we did not have terrorists.. or earthquakes.. or tornadoes… or plane crashes.. or any other 1 in a million accidents  – yes its 1 in a million.. but when you do calculations like that you should look at what the consequence would be of an accident not only what the chance are of it happening.

  • steffenjobbs

    What’s wrong with Apple going with solar power?  Jeez.  It’s a viable alternative energy source.  Who say it has to be “pure marketing”?  They’re always after Apple to be greener, so Apple is going greener.  No matter what Apple tries to do, there are always going to be detractors.  Maybe Apple shouldn’t have bothered to build a data center and just left the trees where they belonged.  How’s that?   All the research going into solar panel efficiency and you’ve got people saying they shouldn’t be used.

  • Mister Hedge

    Everyone: “Apple needs to go Green! They’re ruining the environment and they’re supposed to be the inspiration for the whole world!”

    Apple decides to go Green by building solar arrays.

    The same people: “God, I can’t believe Apple is using solar power. How inefficient. It’s totally not worth it.”

    As they say, hater’s gonna hate.

  • Alex

    flying a helicopter”

    Killian did you notice the wing visible in the video ? 

  • Mangy_Dog

    Sweet. Apple’s going to disrupt the power industry too …. 

  • Len Williams

    OK, let’s face it. Apple can never do anything right, well, except for all those marvelous iPods, iPads, iPhones, MacBook Airs, iMacs, MacBook Pros, Mac Pros and OS X. Aside from that, everything Apple does gets criticized no matter what they do. A few months ago Greenpeace was up in arms about Apple using coal-generated electricity to power its Maiden, NC data center. They called Apple all kinds of un-green names, even though Apple had publicly announced and had been working on establishing their solar farm array more than 6 months prior to Greenpeace’s harangue. Somebody at Greenpeace hadn’t done their homework, or paid any attention to the tech news where it had been broadly announced for months.

    Now the solar array is under attack because it harms the environment–but wait, isn’t solar the energy generation system that’s been promoted for decades as being environmentally friendly? There are zero carbon emissions, and no pollution. Yes, it rips up the trees, bushes, grass and scrub where the panels go, but this is a very small cost as compared to the pollution generated by a coal-fired plant.

    The solution one person suggested of building a nuclear plant is absolutely ridiculous. It would take 8-10 years and cost multi-millions over and above a solar array, and there’s that pesky problem of what to do with all the waste plutonium/uranium when the fuel rods are depleted. It stays radioactive and deadly for centuries, and as yet there is no national storage center in the US for spent fuel rods (the Yucca Mountain project has been cancelled).

    Apple’s solar farm is a great plan that does minimal damage to the environment in what was scrub land, and provides power to their HUGE data center that will be viable and non-polluting for decades. I call it a win!

  • Mike Rathjen

    Guinea Pig power is probably the better choice. You can put them in a little stationary boat that generates electricity. According to Geico, three or four is enough to power one computer. But with 107 acres to work with, I’m sure you could fit enough guinea pigs in that space.

    From what I hear, the difficult part is to train one of them to say “row” over and over again. Strange… it’s such an easy word.

  • zoleg

    Great idea to go solar. Location could have been selected closer to the desert areas like Navada or smth to save the trees. Still much better than coil and safer than nuclear.