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Apple plans to build solar farm beside North Carolina data center

After buying and clearing 171 acres of land next to its gargantuan soon-to-begin-operations data center in Maiden, North Carolina, it looks as if Apple is about to build a solar farm on it.

The reason for Apple’s purchase of the extra land had been something of a mystery until the Charlotte Observer came across engineering plans entitled Project Dolphin Solar Farm A Expanded. The Observer points out that Project Dolphin was the code name used by the Cupertino company for the data center.

Confirmation about the construction of a solar farm is expected once the computer giant applies for a building permit. Permits recently issued by Catawba County show that Apple has been granted permission to reshape the slope of part of the vacant land beside the data center – thought to be in preparation for the construction of the solar farm.

A data center the size of Apple’s facility in Maiden – which covers around 180 acres – will no doubt need a fair bit of power to keep it ticking over. The Observer reports that using renewable energy would fit with Apple’s apparent interest in this kind of power, with plants in Austin, Texas, and Cork, Ireland, already powered entirely by renewable energy.

The new data center is thought to have cost somewhere in the region of $1 billion to build and should bring 300 new jobs to the area.

Apple hasn’t publicly stated what the data center will be used for, although its recent launch of cloud-based services doesn’t leave too much to the imagination.