Apple has finally revealed long-awaited plans for its Mesa, Arizona, factory. It will soon become a solar-powered data “command center” instead of being leased out, as was the previous intent. The launch of this project marks one of the largest investments in Apple’s history. Upon completion, the command center will boost the company’s headcount by more than 600, and Apple says the facility will be powered by 100 percent clean energy derived in part from solar plants developed in cooperation with the local Salt River Project.
Apple will spend around $2 billion to make this solar-powered data center a reality. The facility will become a “data command center” for its global networks. This is part of Apple’s ambitious goal of leaning more heavily on clean energy by incorporating it into the infrastructure of the company’s facilities.
The history of the Arizona facility has been muddied with bad luck. Solar panel maker First Solar previously owned the 1.3 million-square-foot building, but it never used the site after scaling back its manufacturing in 2012. At that point, Apple made public its plans to acquire the property in late 2013, with the intent to lease it to sapphire glass maker GT Advanced Technologies. GT went bankrupt, so the lease agreement fell through. Apple is currently waiting to regain control of the facility from GT so that construction can begin on the destined-to-be-solar-powered data center. Project planners expect solar plants to provide around 70 MW of solar power for Apple’s command center – enough to power the equivalent of 14,500 Arizona homes.