Apple’s iCloud Service Will Be Partly Powered By Solar

Apple's new data center in Maiden North CarolinaApple is the next tech company to move toward renewable energy as a source of power for their data storage. In this case, it’s for Apple’s iCloud service which now has over 100 million users. The data center is located in Maiden NC and it’ll generate 20 megawatts of power annually via solar at their 100 acre facility. Apple is also using captured rainwater for cooling which will be chilled during off-peak hours and recycled 35 times.

Apple managed to keep details about the iCloud data center secret, even kept it from appearing on Google maps until June 2011, but now their talking and taking pride in their LEED Platinum certification. Seems like Apple is moving toward using renewable energy in the same stealthy way they release their products. [Wired]

Related article: Looks like Bloom Energy is behind Apple’s massive fuel cell farm

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Sunlounge Tanning & Spa In Los Angeles Gets 15-30% Of Their Power From Solar. Is That Bad?

Sunlounge Solar Powered Spa and Tanning SalonSunlounge Tanning & Spa’s own website refers to their role as the “sun’s middleman” and that’s because they get 15-30% of their electricity from solar power. It seems more than a little crazy that people would seek out the artificial sunlight from a tanning bed that is powered by solar panels versus getting it directly from the sun; it’s like choosing to pay for a knockoff when the actual product is free. But according to Sunlounge, there are many good reasons why you should artificial over organic sunning.

Grist.org posted a tongue in cheek story about Sunlounge and how it was possibly inspired by a Photoshop contest for stupid technology. But Jubbling thinks that other than trying to over-leverage the “going green” message, Sunlounge is doing something positive by using solar power. Doesn’t take the all the crazy out the idea but I have to admit, because of the solar and not the going green message, Sunlounge would be first tanning salon in Los Angeles that I’d think of when I wouldn’t go tanning.

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Why The Heck Do We Need To Bring Up Space-Based Solar Panels Again?

Space Based Solar PanelsJust when you think solar might be getting traction here on earth, another article about the viability of space-based solar power comes out. Reuters posted it today, Orbital solar power plants touted for energy needs, and put forth the advantages of launching solar panels into space. The basics behind space-based solar power are simple – solar panels in space can collect energy from the sun 24/7. Then the electricity generated can be beamed back to earth via microwave or laser.

Jubbling’s take: With budget cuts, NASA and their counterparts need to stay relevant so pursuing ideas like space-based solar power generation may help justify their continued existence. But the cost of launching solar panels in space to get 12 more hours of daily sunlight is just crazy. The most important sentence in the Reuters article was:

The study did not estimate a potential overall price tag for completing the project.

We did some searching and found data from a 2009 article in E360, Solar Power from Space: Moving Beyond Science Fiction, that the Pentagon estimated it would cost $10 billion to put a 10-megawatt solar power plant in space by 2016. Compare that to the $1 billion spent to generate 250-megawatts of solar power in Nevada and Arizona.

Artemis Innovation Management Solutions of California recently received nearly $100,000 from NASA to study the feasibility of space-based solar. Jubbling would take only $2500 to tell them that we think the idea of space-based solar panels is totally batshit.

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Geothermal Power Isn’t As Sexy As Solar Or Wind And That’s Why It May Be The Most Promising

SMU Geothermal Laboratory and Google.org
Enhanced Geothermal SystemsGoogle and SMU recently completed a study to more accurately determine how much energy could be generated using geothermal sources under the US. This is SMU’s Geothermal Laboratory’s third study on the availability geothermal and their results are pretty amazing – the geothermal potential under the US is nearly 3 million megawatts, or 10 times the amount of power produced by coal plants today. Even crazier is that the geothermal energy potential under West Virginia is greater than what the state could generate annually from coal.

Geothermal is kind of the Ugly Betty on the renewable energy scene and much like the fullback in football. Never glamorous, it rarely gets the same attention as cool solar or sleek wind turbines. Non-glamorous Iceland has found a way to harness its geothermal resources and they currently get 53% of their primary energy from the hot stuff – when will we? [TPM]

For more information, check out A New Geothermal Map of the United States and A Googol of Heat Beneath Our Feet

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Double Shot Of Jubbling: Solar Costs Fall in 2010 And More Wind Power Options

Rooftop Solar Panels and Xzeres Wind Turvine
For all of the outlying ideas for generating electricity, we keep coming back to solar and wind power based solutions and now they’re looking even more attractive. It’s all thanks to the economies of scale and these old school technologies are only going to get more affordable, efficient and creatively packaged.

Cost Of Solar Falls Again In 2010 – A study out of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory finds that the cost per kilowatt of solar has fallen again in 2010 thanks to improved manufacturing and product efficiency. California and New Jersey, which account for 87% of all solar installations, saw the largest gains as the price for solar dropped by 14 and 16% respectively. In 1998, the price per kilowatt for solar panels was $10.80 and in the first 10 months of 2010, the price per kilowatt has dropped to $6. Leasing options from companies like SolarCity and Sungevity have also made it more attractive for people looking to move toward solar. Gone are the days when installing solar meant you had to take out a second mortgage and shell out $25-40,000. CNET

Wind Turbine For Your Home? – If you’ve ever driven through Palm Desert CA, you probably have seen the huge collection of massive wind turbines. It’s unreal and distracting because it looks like a scene out of a Godzilla movie. A company out of Oregon wants to change our impression of wind power by manufacturing and maintaining more affordable and possibly residential friendly wind turbines. The company is Xzeres and their wind towers stand 60-100 feet with a rotor that is 24 feet in diameter. The size of Xzeres’s towers are in contrast to the 300 ft tall, 250 ft diameter wind turbines we’re used to seeing. Xzeres latest offering is similar to “lease to own” options found in the solar industry – they’ll install their wind turbine, you pay Xzeres’s for your electricity as if they were your utility company and then you own the turbine in 8 – 10 years. It’s a lease to own where the byproduct is electricity you would’ve paid for anyway. Now, if they could only make them look like pine trees….NY Times

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