Apple builds hydrogen fuel cell

Apple is building a huge hydrogen powered fuel cell to power its data centre which is still yet to be used.

Apple filed its plans with the N.C. Utilities Commission to build the 4.8-megawatt project in Maiden, about 40 miles northwest of Charlotte.

For those who came in late, Apple built the huge data centre to take advantage of the cheap coal fired electricity in North Carolina. But since it went live it still seems to be a dead site. Meanwhile, Apple has been investigating all sorts of alternative ways to power the site.

Psyorg said the fuel cell project, the nation’s largest such project not built by an electric utility company, will be developed this year. It will also be assisted by a 20-megawatt solar farm.

Fuel cells generate electricity through an electro-chemical process and give out power as long as they have a source of hydrogen.

However, they cost a fortune to make. Apple appears to be interested because the federal government offers a 30 percent tax credit. But even then you have to question why Apple is spending cash to get such expensive electricity after moving to a state on the basis that the electricity is so cheap.

According to Apple, the fuel cell facility could be in operation toward the end of the year. Beyond that information, Apple officials would not comment on the project.

The facility will consist of 24 fuel cell modules. It will extract hydrogen from natural gas supplied by Piedmont Natural Gas.

Apple will arrange to produce landfill methane gas or some other biogas to offset its natural gas use. But it seems that Apple still has not been doing much with its 500,000-square-foot data centre on the 11.5-acre site, yet now has begun work on a second building on the campus.

Of course, Apple is saying nothing.