Apple plans construction of solar power plant

22nd Feb 2012

Companies are often in search of ways to improve their environmental credentials and it seems Apple is the latest to do just that.

In its Facilities Report: 2012 Environmental Update, the technology giant reveals plans to build the largest privately-owned solar power facility in the US.

This will be achieved through making improvements to the company's massive data centre in Maiden, North Carolina, where there is massive potential for solar panels to be installed.

Apple commissioned the site last year and is hoping to use the land surrounding the data centre to construct its 100-acre solar plant in the near future.

Once up and running, it is estimated that the facility will be capable of supplying 42 million kWh of renewable energy every year.

Finer details of the project have not been released, as Apple has failed to state how much the project will cost and when it is expected to be completed by.

"Apple is committed to pursuing energy-efficient growth by increasing our renewable energy participation to match the growing needs of our data centre," explained the report.

This will be achieved through both in-house programs and partnerships with utilities and renewable energy providers.

Although solar power in an environmentally-friendly to generate electricity, scientists are constantly in search of more ways to make cells more efficient.

One such group is based at Swinburne University of Technology, who have worked in collaboration with Suntech Power Holdings to create what they claim is the most efficient broadband nanoplasmonic solar cell in the world.

Gold and silver have been added to the nanoparticles, which therefore increases the wavelength range of the absorbed light, therefore improving the conversion of photons into electrons.

Meanwhile at the University of Cambridge, experts believe they have created solar cells that can improve the efficiency of current models by 25 per cent.

The team based at the Cavendish Laboratory at the Department of Physics developed a hybrid cell that absorbs red light while harnessing the energy of blue light to enhance the electrical current.

At the moment, solar cells cannot convert more than 34 per cent of the available sunlight into electrical power, which is an issue that the new cells partly resolve.

Study lead author Bruno Ehrler pointed out that organic and hybrid solar cells have a number of advantages because they can be produced in large amounts at a low cost.

Posted by Mike Peacock

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