Apple and Aarhus University to develop biogas production for data centres

US technology juggernaut Apple has entered into an agreement with the University of Aarhus in Denmark to establish a biogas research and development programme.

The venture, along with a €1.7 billion investment, comes after Apple in February 2015 announced it was planning to build two data centres powered entirely by renewable energy in Europe.

The facilities will be built in Athenry, Ireland, and the town of Foulum in Denmark, where Aarhus University’s agricultural research facilities are located.

"This is a clearly a benefit of Apple's billion-krona investment in the data centre in Foulum. This partnership is a good example of how our targeted efforts to attract foreign companies to Denmark are producing results," said Denmark's Foreign Minister Kristin Jensen.

Apple will provide financial support to the university's research into biogas and how usable energy can be extracted from agriculture, whether in the form of fertiliser or straw supplied by local farmers.

Apple CEO Tim Cook described the investment as “significant” and “Apple’s biggest project in Europe” in 2015 when the data centre programme was announced.

"We're thrilled to be expanding our operations, creating hundreds of local jobs and introducing some of our most advanced green building designs yet," Cook said.

Increasing emissions

Despite its environmentally friendly agenda, Apple has been criticised for the environmental impact of its manufacturing facilities in China, which rely heavily on coal for their energy needs.

In its latest Environmental Responsibility Report looking at the 2015 fiscal year, the tech giant reported total greenhouse gas emissions of 38.4 million tonnes, representing a 12.3% increase from the 34.2 million tonnes in 2014.

Manufacturing made up 29.6 million tonnes, or 77%, of Apple’s GHG emissions last year, and according to its environmental report the company has set up programmes and audits to get its suppliers to reduce their environmental impact.

This article was written by Ilari Kauppila, deputy editor at Bioenergy Insight

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