In what has to be a first, Datacenter Dynamics reports that Apple is securing ownership of a small hydropower system near their new data center in Prineville Oregon.
I wonder what the actual terms of the deal are - is Apple actually buying the facility (what sounds like a short canal and a three MW generation plant), or have they simply contracted to purchase the power. It does seem clear that an arrangement has been made for wheeling the supply, with Bonneville Power and a local cooperative in the mix.
I'm afraid the article makes the common mistake of dealing in electric demand to determine if Apple is closing in on its goal of sourcing 100% renewable power for the Prineville facility. 20 MW of solar PV and another 3 to 5 MW from the hydro system does not represent about two-thirds of the projected facility load of 37 MW (if that is even where Apple is going on the demand side).
With ten or so hours of solar production, and a clear indication that the hydro plant is seasonally off-line, we're likely looking at maybe a third of the power needed for the data center coming from these sources. You always have to talk energy use, not demand, when characterizing a power supply portfolio under these circumstances.
That said, all due considerations to Apple for identifying a power supply option that I haven't seen another operator find. There are data centers (notably in Eastern Washington) that are powered exclusively by large hydro, provided by the local utility, but this is the first small-scale system deal I've seen.
I expect Greenpeace will still cast a critical eye on Apple's efforts, and the industry as a whole. Their likely criticism of this deal is that it doesn't represent new renewable generation but rather secures power from an existing resource. Nevertheless, Apple is clearly moving in the direction of responsible power sourcing.