Earlier this spring, environmentalists cheered when Apple announced that it would powerits largest data center in Maiden, North Carolina entirely with renewable energy. Now, Apple is following that up with plans to build a large solar farm to power its data center in Reno, Nevada, demonstrating its commitment to lowering its carbon footprint. GigaOm broke the news yesterday, reporting that the Reno solar array will provide between 18 to 20 MW worth of power, which is roughly the same size as the North Carolina plant.

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The solar plant in Reno won’t contain conventional solar panels; Apple is reportedly planning to use a new type of solar technology that uses solar panels and mirrors to concentrate the sun’s rays up to seve times, greatly increasing the amount of power that can be generated. For engineering and construction of the solar farm, Apple will work with solar company SunPower, which also partnered with Apple on its North Carolina solar installation, and it will also be working with NV Energy on the project to provide power for the local grid.

“All of Apple’s data centers use 100 percent renewable energy, and we are on track to meet that goal in our new Reno data center using the latest in high-efficiency concentrating solar panels,” Apple said in a statement announcing the project. “This project will not only supply renewable energy for our data center but also provide clean energy to the local power grid, through a first-of-its-kind partnership with NV Energy.”

As GigaOm points out, a 20 MW solar system is a big investment for a private company that isn’t an energy company. The nearly $1 billion data center will span 167 acres and it will be capable of producing about about 43.5 million kilowatt hours per year. That will amount to saving as much fossil fuel as taking 6,400 vehicles off the road each year.

via GigaOm and Engadget

Images via Apple