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Apple spending $2 billion on two European data centers running on 100 percent renewable energy

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Apple has announced plans worth €1.7 billion ($1.93 billion) to construct two new data centers in Europe. Each facility will be run using 100 percent renewable energy and will provide online services such as iTunes, iMessages, and Siri for Apple customers in Europe. The data centers are being built in Athenry in western Ireland and in Viborg in central Denmark, with both sites expected to be operational by 2017.

"this is Apple's biggest project in Europe to date."

"We are grateful for Apple’s continued success in Europe and proud that our investment supports communities across the continent," said Apple CEO Tim Cook. "This significant new investment represents Apple’s biggest project in Europe to date. We’re thrilled to be expanding our operations, creating hundreds of local jobs and introducing some of our most advanced green building designs yet."

Building data centers in Europe not only allows Apple to get rid of some of its foreign cash while creating local good will — it also put the company in a better position for defending users' data privacy. In the last couple of years there has been a surge in European data centers being built by US firms, with companies reacting to concerns that data stored on American soil will simply be hoovered by the NSA. Paul Nemitz, a director in the European Commission’s Justice Unit, described the uptick in new sites as "proof" that Europe was "becoming a trust center for data."

A rendering of the facility at Athenry. (Apple)

Each new center will measure 166,000 square meters, with Apple promising to deliver benefits to the local community. The facility in Ireland will include outdoor education space and walking trails for local schools as well as schemes to replant native trees in the surrounding area. In Viborg meanwhile, excess heat produced by the servers will be used to warm local homes.

"We know at Apple that climate change is real."

The commitment to using renewable energy in both centers underscores Apple's green credentials. Earlier this month it announced it was investing $850 million in building a giant solar farm to power its new global headquarters, with Cook saying: "We know at Apple that climate change is real. The time for talk has passed and the time for action is now."

In its announcement for the new data centers Apple also reiterated its contribution to the European economy. The company says it now directly employs 18,300 people in 19 European countries, and that it has added more than 2,000 jobs in the last 12 months alone. It also says that in 2014 it spent more than €7.8 billion with European companies. Apple may be hoping that facts like this count in its favor in Europe, where the company still faces hostility over its tax arrangements.