North Carolina Economic Development Guide


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CAROLINA GREEN Electricity generation by source 2007–12 Clean-energy investment (millions) (thousands of megawatt hours) Renewables/other 2% Biomass Passive solar Hydroelectric 4% Landfill gas Photovoltaic Natural Gas 4% Hydroelectric 35% Geothermal Coal Wind Nuclear Solar thermal 55% Energy and others, a data center the size of Google's uses more electricity than Lenoir, a city of almost 19,000 people. That's why they are becoming laboratories for renewable-energy technology — test beds for programs, policies and politics that could boost bottom lines. In California, Google's senior policy counsel for energy and sustainability won't say how much power the Lenoir center uses, but the company's worldwide initiatives to reduce consumption offer a hint. "Those efforts have enabled us to save over $1 billion in energy costs over the years," Michael Terrell says. "So they make a lot of business sense." All that, plus the demands of their customers and concern for the world they're shrinking with their computers, force Google, Apple, Facebook and others to focus on where their energy comes from, now and in the future. Google is partnering with Duke Energy Carolinas — a subsidiary of Charlotte-based Duke Energy Corp., the nation's largest electric utility — to develop a rate for renewable energy: A company contracts for energy by creating 44 TOTAL 3,393 1,314 630 261 73 29 27 1 5,728 solar or wind farms or otherwise buying or generating power that doesn't come from fossil fuel or other exhaustible sources. "Hundreds of customers would probably ft the criteria, but this is still a pilot," says Rob Caldwell, Duke Energy vice president for wholesale power and generation. "It's a voluntary program that'll be made available to larger, energy-intensive customers." Google, which had revenue of $50 billion in 2012, is willing to pay extra for clean energy, and not just out of altruism. "When investing in renewable energy, you don't face the fuel uncertainty you do with fossil fuels," Terrell says. "You build a wind farm, and once it's built, you're not having to pay for the wind. You build a solar farm, and you're not paying for the sun." Lowell Sachs, director of communication for the 700-member North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association in Raleigh, says commercial users aren't the only benefciaries. "Choice in the energy market is a good thing. It brings competition that can help to control price volatility and increases and can help to No rt h C arol i Na E CoNo mi C DE v Elo p mE N t Gu iDE $409 $400 300 Renewable energy Energy efficiency State incentives 200 100 $88 $15 0 2007 '08 '09 '10 '11 add to the overall energy security of the state because you're not as dependent on a single source." In the quest for sustainable energy and resource conservation, there is no single approach. A little more than 30 miles southeast of Lenoir at the sprawling Apple data center, photovoltaic panels refect sun and clouds, with work on a twin array nearby scheduled for completion by the end of 2013. Apple is also doubling its fuel-cell power plant in Maiden, spokesman Nick Leahy says. "This facility is already powered by 100% renewable energy, and the solar farm provides the bulk of it. But it's not always 1-to-1. Solar is a moving target. That's why we've also got on-site a 10-megawatt fuel cell using biogas" — methane collected from landflls. Instead of burning the gas to power generators, the traditional method, the fuel cell uses electrochemical conversion: technology that turns it into electricity without combustion. The site will produce enough energy this year to power 17,000 homes. In fact, some of its renewable energy will do just that. Apple has asked the N.C. '12

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