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Intel Ups its Green Game with a Rooftop Wind Farm

Is it enough for a Silicon Valley headquarters to have great food, or does it also has to offer clean energy?

1 min read
Intel Ups its Green Game with a Rooftop Wind Farm
Photo: Intel

Silicon Valley companies have stopped talking about who offers their employees the best food (everybody there has a great chef these days). Their latest avenue for one-upping each other: which firm can run its Silicon Valley campus on the greenest energy.

In early February, Apple announced that it is partnering with First Solar to build a solar farm in Monterey County, Calif. Apple will be getting the output of 500 hectares of the 1170-hectare installation. That’s 130 megawatts of power—enough, the company has said, to cover the electricity use of all its facilities in the state, including its new “spaceship” headquarters that is under construction.

Just a day later, Google announced that, by 2016, it will be powering its Mountain View headquarters—generally referred to as the Googleplex—with 43 MW from the Altamont Pass wind farm, or half that facility’s production. As part of this agreement, 370 1980s-era wind turbines will be replaced by 24 larger machines, according to Wired.

Last week, Intel joined the “green” party, announcing that it has installed 58 wind turbines on the roof of its Santa Clara headquarters. The turbines will produce just 65 KW—enough to cover the energy needs of the company’s conference center, not the entire headquarters. But, the company said, this is just a proof-of-concept project, for now.

Facebook, meanwhile, went to another kind of green for its new Silicon Valley headquarters building—a rooftop park. Facebook has made major green energy commitments for its many data centers around the country, as have other tech companies. But perhaps the company should contemplate an interesting decorative border for its headquarters park: It could paint a row of windmills to look like colorful pinwheels, and they would fit right in.

The Conversation (0)
This photograph shows a car with the words “We Drive Solar” on the door, connected to a charging station. A windmill can be seen in the background.

The Dutch city of Utrecht is embracing vehicle-to-grid technology, an example of which is shown here—an EV connected to a bidirectional charger. The historic Rijn en Zon windmill provides a fitting background for this scene.

We Drive Solar

Hundreds of charging stations for electric vehicles dot Utrecht’s urban landscape in the Netherlands like little electric mushrooms. Unlike those you may have grown accustomed to seeing, many of these stations don’t just charge electric cars—they can also send power from vehicle batteries to the local utility grid for use by homes and businesses.

Debates over the feasibility and value of such vehicle-to-grid technology go back decades. Those arguments are not yet settled. But big automakers like Volkswagen, Nissan, and Hyundai have moved to produce the kinds of cars that can use such bidirectional chargers—alongside similar vehicle-to-home technology, whereby your car can power your house, say, during a blackout, as promoted by Ford with its new F-150 Lightning. Given the rapid uptake of electric vehicles, many people are thinking hard about how to make the best use of all that rolling battery power.

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