by Greg Kumparak
If you had to guess the next thing Apple would take under its wing, what would it be?
If you guessed “a hydroelectric power project in Central Oregon”, you’d be right! You’d also be a weirdly specific guesser.
OregonLive reports that Apple has taken over the efforts to complete a hydroelectric plant just outside of Prineville, Oregon.
“Cool!” you say. “But what the hell is a hydroelectric plant?”
You know those big wooden water wheels you always see in kitschy paintings of rivers? It’s like that, except with more of that sweet, sweet science. Falling water is used to spin big turbines, which in turn generate electricity. The Hoover Dam, for example, doubles as a hydroelectricity plant.
As for why Apple would want one, it’s simple: data centers. Apple operates a handful of data centers around the world (including one right down the road from their new hydro plant) to power things like iCloud. Data centers use a lot of power; even just keeping them cool enough to operate is a costly battle.
Apple claims that 100% of the energy that powers their data centers comes from renewable sources – but for now, they’re still buying much of that energy from third-party wind, solar, and hydroelectric plants. As made clear by this move and the company’s recent efforts to build massive solar farms, Apple would much rather be filling their energy needs on their own.
Don’t expect them to be entirely self-sufficient right away, though — even with regards to just their Oregon data center. This new hydro-electric project is said to output somewhere around 3-5 megawatts. Many big data centers — like Facebook’s Oregon data center, just down the road from Apple’s — require up to 6x that.