Apple has announced plans to power its main data centre in North Carolina entirely with renewable energy by the end of 2012, Reuters has reported.

The announcement comes after long-lasting environmental concerns by Greenpeace about Apple’s rapid expansion of high-consuming computer server farms in the US.  Greenpeace activists drew significant attention last week on Apple’s use of coal at the data centre that powers its iCloud.

The maker of the iPhone and the iPad confirmed on Thursday that it was buying equipment from SunPower Corp and startup Bloom Energy to build two solar array installations near its core data centre in North Carolina. The sites will employ high-efficiency solar cells and an advanced solar tracking system.

“Apple’s announcement today is a great sign that Apple is taking seriously the hundreds of thousands of its customers who have asked for an iCloud powered by clean energy, not dirty coal.” said Greenpeace International Senior IT Analyst Gary Cook.

The solar farm is expected to supply 84 million kWh of energy annually and it will cover 250 acres of land around Apple’s main data centre.

“The plan we are releasing today includes two solar farms and together they will be twice as big as we previously announced, thanks to the purchase of some land very near to the data centre in Maiden, which will help us meet this goal.” Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer told Reuters.

Mr Oppenheimer outlined company’s ambition to continue its environmental approach along with its expansion in services and provide sustainable development for its products.

“Our next facility will be in Prineville, Oregon. This is still in the planning stages and we have already identified plenty of renewable sources nearby,” Oppenheimer said.

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