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North Carolina approves Apple's plans for 4.8-megawatt fuel cell facility

Things are looking green around Apple's Maiden, North Carolina data center, and it's not just due to the fact that it's springtime. The North Carolina Utilities Commission has approved (PDF) Apple's plans to construct and operate a 4.8-megawatt fuel cell facility at the data center, providing green power for at least a portion of the electricity needs of the huge location.

As noted previously on TUAW, Apple will be using natural gas-powered fuel cells called Bloom Boxes to generate electricity and exhaust CO2 and water to the environment with no combustion byproducts. The natural gas will come from a local pipeline provider; that gas will be offset by purchases of biogas from another provider, keeping the power as green as possible.

The installation will be the nation's biggest private fuel cell energy project. Apple already uses some of the Bloom Boxes at the Cupertino campus; manufacturer Bloom Energy is located in nearby Sunnyvale, CA. The approval of the fuel cell power plant at the Maiden facility follows a similar approval last week when Apple got the OK to build a 20-megawatt photovoltaic solar facility.

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