What we all want to know
Were the solar cells made in a Chinese sweat shop using child labour?
Apple has dropped a few more details about its huge new data centre in Maiden, North Carolina in an update to its environmental policy published yesterday. A big feature of the new billion-dollar data centre – needed to keep Siri chatting back, and to let new OS Mountain Lion sync games in real time between iPhones and Macs – …
"the bulk - 60 per cent - comes from manufacturing its devices."
So 60 percent of the energy is directly from the chinese battery farms producing these shiny things 24 hours a day until the workers manage to pry a window open and can turn themselves into human compost?
This is such a joke. Solar is nothing but a touchy feely carrot to give to all the limp wristed hand wringers who want to feel like they are making a difference when they buy x companies product. It is horribly ineffecient and costly in both dollars and waste material to construct. The rate of failure is high for the investment as well. But hey, its Apple, pretty soon, they will be saying they invented the idea....(and suing someone for it)
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After all, Cupertino would not answer the question hmm? Unless you are suggesting that we all shut up simply because the company concerned (which ever example of "BigCorp" we are talking about) has decided that it prefers that the issue (what ever it may be) is not discussed?
Not sure why other commentards have a problem with this. With photovoltaics Apple is doing what it usually does in other areas, invest in a mostly underinvested and underused technology to figure out how turn it into something they can benefit from.
Solar may be a touchy feely tech now, but it's also the nicest kind of energy. It just sits there putting out power, not moving nor disturbing anything. It's also nature's most common energy source, which should really tell us something.
It's good to see anyone in the commercial sector investing and dedicating such a large area for it, not just a couple of rooftops.
The problem with your ideal world is that these panles are horribly inefficient and generate tons of green house gass etc in manufacture. Before this is embraced and too many roll them out they need to become more environmentally friendly. Just think of all the waste genreated while we fabricate the glasses, cells and frames to hold these.
Are you serious?
Think about the waste in finding, exploring, trading and transporting fossil fuels, then add another round of wastage in extracting and transporting electric energy from those fuels.
With solar at least it's just the panels, some electronics and essentially electricity comes out the other side.
When the solar cell wafers break down you can replace them keeping the glass and frames for minimal wastage, the system itself should last at least a good 20 years.
It's precisely to combat narrow thinking such as yours that we need more commercial installations.
Does solar cell manufacture still generate large quantities of toxic heavy-metal waste?
I seem to recall that some years ago, one of the top polluters in the US was a firm making solar cells. They contaminated the ground around them with arsenic and gallium in the process.
Like most electronics, if the factory doesn't manage the waste and just dumps it on the nearby river solar panel production will cause pollution. But It doesn't have to be bad, and th industry is getting better.
Even when problems pop up, compared to disasters such as the Deepwater Horizon...
Solar power usually caries about a 40c / kWh taxpayer supplied bonus, so that means that Apple will be grossing about 82 million kWh * 0.4 = $32 million per year.
In other words, if the set up is a 'normal' solar/ biomass setup, Apple will get income of $32 million from the plant, which it can use to purchase power on the open market at about 0.06 / kWh, so that will pay for almost all the electricity they use. Plus they get to issue press releases about 'break even' and reducing the bill to zero.
Of course the environmental benefits are about zero or worse.
Putting the facility in upstate NY, and using 100% carbon free Quebec hydro power would have made more environmental sense, but its all about kickbacks and tax breaks, now isn't it?
Great idea, I've read about this before and Toshiba/Westinghouse are doing a lot of work on making the concept happen. Even Bill Gates is interested:-
I guess I should expect flames since I mentioned Bill so I'll get my coat right now!
..i was only half heartedly sarcastic. it is such a great idea and would be of serious benefit, assuming the natural predatory profiteers don't price everyone else out of the idea first.
but then again, with all the disinformation about nuclear energy, there'll always be huge implimentation obstacles.
speaking of Gates..isn't one of his ex-partners heading the think tank in Washington state that comes up with 'out-there' ideas such as this one?
There is some sort of solar-farm madness going on in North Carolina. My fiancee lives there (in the mountains south of Asheville) and I was surprised at the number of solar farms out in Bum-Fuck-Egypt, NC. Not as big as this 100-acre farm that Apple has planned, but lots of them that are 1 to 10 acres. It's gotten so prevalent that some local governments are putting moratoriums on constructing new solar farms to rein-in the solar-farm developers. Apparently south-west NC's primary real income is still tourism in the mountains, and the tourists aren't too keen on seeing shiny new solar-farms all over the place.
Apple may be trying to gain some whalehugger cred with this, but in reality, solar-farms are already spreading like wildfire in North Carolina, so Apple is just going with the flow.
Funny place, North Carolina. I'm never too sad to get back across the line into Georgia.
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