Intel plans 8 solar arrays to help power facilities

Intel looks to be a leader in green energy with its new solar facilities in New Mexico, Arizona, California, and Oregon

Intel, looking to be a leader in the green energy movement, is getting ready to begin construction on eight solar power installations in separate facilities in four states.

The chip maker announced last week that one solar installation will go up in New Mexico, two in Arizona, two in California and three in Oregon. With building contracts in place and required permits obtained for nearly all the projects, construction is expected to begin within a week and a half, according to Marty Sedler, Intel 's director of Global Utilities and Infrastructure.

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"We're extremely excited," Sedler told Computerworld . "We've been buying renewable energy for a few years now. That was kind of our first step in trying to demonstrate some leadership. That was good, but it was always the intention that we would follow that up with more action ... It's certainly the right thing to do, in terms of leadership in helping the environment and sustainability. It's good for our shareholders and employees... really everyone."

Sedler noted that the largest installation, planned for Folsom, Calif. , is designed to be a 1-megawatt solar field covering six acres. The smallest installation will produce 100 kilowatts and will cover 13,000 square feet of a rooftop on an Intel campus building.

All of the energy produced by the solar arrays will be used by the Intel facilities on site.

"People don't really understand how land-intensive these projects are," Sedler said. "It's a lot of space. It's difficult for people to do really large projects. If we're talking about property on a particular business campus, it's tough."

He declined to say how much Intel is paying for the eight different construction projects, which he said should be wrapped up by this coming June. Weather in Oregon could delay those three projects, he noted.

The arrays, at best, will supply about 7 percent of the energy each facility consumes every year, Sedler said. Together, they should produce enough energy to power 9,000 average U.S. homes. They also should reduce carbon emissions to equal taking 600 cars off the roads.

Intel has been putting some focus on green technologies and the environment.

Last July, Intel announced it had invested $10 million in five companies that develop technologies to reduce electric bills and greenhouse gas emissions in homes and data centers.

Intel Capital, the company's investment arm, has invested in companies that develop technology to enable active monitoring of electricity usage in homes and data centers.

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld . Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin , send e-mail to sgaudin@computerworld.com or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed .

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This story, "Intel plans 8 solar arrays to help power facilities" was originally published by Computerworld.