Apple and Google can help power the switch to renewable energy

In 2010, Apple fired up a truly giant data centre located in some open fields near the rural town of Maiden in North Carolina. Apple chose the site because land was inexpensive, the state provided tasty tax breaks and energy from nearby coal plants was cheap. But coal was key. As one of the world’s largest data centres, the iDataCenter required enough energy to power a small city. And the local utility, Duke Energy, had lots of excess capacity.

Fast forward eight years, and Apple doesn’t use any coal-powered energy at all. In April, the company announced that its entire worldwide operation ran on 100 per cent renewable energy, including hundreds of retail stores, dozens of data centres and its huge campus in Cupertino, which has one of the world’s largest rooftop solar arrays.

Apple is far from alone. Combined with Facebook, Google, Microsoft and dozens of other big cloud-computing companies, the IT sector is buying so much renewable energy that it reshaping the entire sector. It’s a big reason solar and wind have become so competitive. And in 2019, that trend will only accelerate.

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