Apple’s Solar Panels Catch Fire As It Touts Green Data Centers

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Michael Bastasch DCNF Managing Editor
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It ain’t easy being green. Rooftop solar panels on an Apple-owned facility in Mesa, Arizona caught fire Tuesday morning, lighting up the roof of one of the company’s potential data processing centers.

“The fire appeared to be on solar panels on the roof of the building over a loading dock,” Arizona’s ABC 15 reported Tuesday. The solar panels installed on the Apple facility’s roof were part of a deal to provide 14,000 local homes with electricity.

No one was hurt, according to news reports. It took firefighters about 35 minutes to put out the flames.

Earlier this year, Apple said it would spend $2 billion converting the Mesa facility into a “command center” for the company’s global operations. The plant is expected to create 150 full-time jobs and some 500 construction jobs.

Ironically, the fire comes as Apple promotes its “green” image. The company hired former EPA administrator Lisa Jackson as head of “Environmental Initiatives” and has promised to use 100 percent green power at all of its data centers.

Apple already claims to run 100 percent of its “U.S. offices, data centers, and retail stores with renewable energy.” The company is also working on reducing its water use and taking back products containing environmentally “harmful” substances.

The company’s green image, however, has come into question recently. Critics have pointed out that much of the “green” energy used by Apple is obtained from carbon offsets — a system where companies pay extra on their energy bills to “offset” their carbon dioxide emissions by funding green energy projects.

Carbon offsets, however, don’t mean Apple is only using green energy. The company could still be using coal, natural gas or oil, but then simply paying more to have green power theoretically produced elsewhere. A great PR trick, but it does little to actually “green” up a company.

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