Research collaboration between Apple and Aarhus University will help stabilise the supply of renewable energy to Apple’s new data centre in Viborg. Apple’s initial investment amounts to 21.5 million DKK. The research will benefit the entire biogas industry.
Apple has begun the construction of its new and largest data centre in Foulum, just outside Viborg. The first stage, covering approximately 35,000 square metres, is expected to be in operation during 2017. On completion, Apple’s new centre is expected to cover an area of 250,000 square metres.
The purpose of the data centre is to process and store data in connection with the operation of Apple’s online services, such as App Store, iTunes, iCloud, etc. All this requires energy – a considerable amount of energy. It has been decided that the data centre’s energy consumption shall be covered exclusively by renewable energy from sources such as wind turbines and solar cells. This means, however, that the power supply will be both unstable and difficult to store.
Research into sustainable and renewable energy
Apple has therefore entered into an agreement with Aarhus University about supplementing the data centre’s energy supply with stable renewable energy in the form of biogas. In addition, research into opportunities for storing energy from wind turbines and solar cells will be carried out with the objective to stabilise the sustainable power supply.
Supported by funds from Apple, the Aarhus University researchers will be able to significantly boost their biogas research. Part of this will be done in collaboration with Haldor Topsoe, the catalysis company that is well advanced in the development of a commercial methanisation plant. The work will also be supported by a number of major projects that are in progress under Innovation Fund Denmark, the Energy Technology Development and Demonstration Programme (EUDP), and the Green Development and Demonstration Programme (GUDP).
Expanding the biogas plant
Apple’s initial investment in research in this area amounts to 21.5 million DKK. The agreement includes the expansion of the biogas plant at Aarhus University’s Research Centre Foulum. The existing production reactor will for example be supplemented with an additional full-scale research reactor that can supply the data centre with biogas.