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Apple's Commitment to Run All Data Centers on 100% Renewable Energy Continues With New Announcement

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The green energy news continues to pour out of Apple headquarters.

Apple has invested big in solar farms, working on shrinking its global footprint as much as possible. Photo credit: Apple

Apple boasts that all its data centers are now powered by green, renewable energy. It's just added two more projects to the list. The company is planning to spend $1.7 million euros (about $1,93o,oooUSD) to build state-of-the-art data centers in Athenry in County Galway, western Ireland and Viborg in Jutland, central Denmark, that will run on 100 percent renewable energy. They'll be powering services such as the iTunes shop, Siri and iMessage for the European market.

“We are grateful for Apple’s continued success in Europe and proud that our investment supports communities across the continent,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook. “This significant new investment represents Apple’s biggest project in Europe to date. We’re thrilled to be expanding our operations, creating hundreds of local jobs and introducing some of our most advanced green building designs yet.”

The two facilities will not only be entirely powered by renewable energy—most likely wind—but will also look for other ways to lower their environmental impact and work with partners on renewable energy projects. In Athenry, Apple plans to recover land that was used for growing non-native trees for harvesting and plant native trees there, along with community walking trails and an education center for local schools. The new Viborg center will be located next to one of Denmark's largest electrical substations to eliminate the need for additional generators. The facility will also capture excess heat from its equipment and conduct it into the district heating system to warm homes in the nearby community.


New data centers in Ireland and Denmark will add to Apple's portfolio of all-renewably powered facilities around the world. Photo credit: Apple

This latest news follows on the heels of Apple's announcement two weeks ago of a $850 million investment in a solar farm in California that will power its new campus in Silicon Valley, all its California offices and data centers, and its data center in Newark.

“We believe that innovation is about leaving the world better than we found it, and that the time for tackling climate change is now,” said Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of environmental initiatives. “We’re excited to spur green industry growth in Ireland and Denmark and develop energy systems that take advantage of their strong wind resources. Our commitment to environmental responsibility is good for the planet, good for our business and good for the European economy.”

The data centers in Ireland and Denmark are both scheduled to open in 2017.

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The last time San Francisco did not record a drop of rain in February was in 1864 as the Civil War raged.

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On Thursday, the U.S. Drought Monitor said nearly 60 percent of the state was abnormally dry, up from 46 percent just last week, according to The Mercury News in San Jose.

The dry winter has included areas that have seen devastating fires recently, including Sonoma, Napa, Lake and Mendocino counties. If the dry conditions continue, those areas will once again have dangerously high fire conditions, according to The Mercury News.

"Given what we've seen so far this year and the forecast for the next few weeks, I do think it's pretty likely we'll end up in some degree of drought by this summer," said Swain, as The Mercury News reported.

Another alarming sign of an impending drought is the decreased snowpack in the Sierra Nevada Mountain range. The National Weather Service posted to Twitter a side-by-side comparison of snowpack from February 2019 and from this year, illustrating the puny snowpack this year. The snow accumulated in the Sierra Nevadas provides water to roughly 30 percent of the state, according to NBC Los Angeles.

Right now, the snowpack is at 53 percent of its normal volume after two warm and dry months to start the year. It is a remarkable decline, considering that the snowpack started 2020 at 90 percent of its historical average, as The Guardian reported.

"Those numbers are going to continue to go down," said Swain. "I would guess that the 1 March number is going to be less than 50 percent."

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center forecast that the drier-than-average conditions may last through April.

NOAA said Northern California will continue deeper into drought through the end of April, citing that the "persistent high pressure over the North Pacific Ocean is expected to continue, diverting storm systems to the north and south and away from California and parts of the Southwest," as The Weather Channel reported.

As the climate crisis escalates and the world continues to heat up, California should expect to see water drawn out of its ecosystem, making the state warmer and drier. Increased heat will lead to further loss of snow, both as less falls and as more of it melts quickly, according to The Guardian.

"We aren't going to necessarily see less rain, it's just that that rain goes less far. That's a future where the flood risk extends, with bigger wetter storms in a warming world," said Swain, as The Guardian reported.

The Guardian noted that while California's reservoirs are currently near capacity, the more immediate impact of the warm, dry winter will be how it raises the fire danger as trees and grasslands dry out.

"The plants and the forests don't benefit from the water storage reservoirs," said Swain, as The Mercury News reported. "If conditions remain very dry heading into summer, the landscape and vegetation is definitely going to feel it this year. From a wildfire perspective, the dry years do tend to be the bad fire years, especially in Northern California."

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