Apple 2.0

Covering the business that Steve Jobs built

Aerial photo: Apple's massive solar farm in Maiden, N.C.

September 15, 2012: 6:48 AM ET

Half of what the company bills as America's largest private solar array is nearly finished

One of Apple's two N.C. solar installations. Photo: WCNC-TV

Click to enlarge. Source: Apple

FORTUNE -- Apple (AAPL) announced in February that it was building a pair of 100-acre solar array installations, one in a field adjacent to the company's Maiden, N.C., data center and another a few miles away.

The photo above -- shot by WCNC-TV and posted Thursday by GigaOm's Katie Fehrenbacher -- shows the current state of the first.

When complete, the two 20-megawatt installations are each expected to produce 42 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of energy per year. A third renewable energy power station -- a 5-megawatt biogas-powered fuel cell -- is supposed to produce another 40 million kWh annually.

The Maiden data center draws about 20 megawatts of power at full capacity. According to Apple, "an unprecedented" 60% of that power will be supplied onsite.

Source: Apple Inc.

For the rest of WCNC-TV's photos, click here. They show the first solar field in more and more detail. In the closest photo, the large gray blocks seen above resolve into rows of solar collectors designed to track the sun as it moves across the sky. The last photo looks a lot like the artist's rendition (right) that Apple PR  published in its February "Apple and the Environment" report.

Apple would never admit there is a connection, but the report and the construction projects come after sustained pressure by Greenpeace and other environmental organizations on Silicon Valley companies -- and Apple in particular -- to clean up their act.

See also: What's Apple up to now in Maiden, N.C.?

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Philip Elmer-Dewitt
Philip Elmer-DeWitt
Editor, Apple 2.0, Fortune

Philip Elmer-DeWitt has been following Apple since 1982, first for Time Magazine, and now on the Web for Fortune.com.

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