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Apple is going into a new direction with the GT Advanced Technologies plant in Mesa .  Apple now plans a Data Center at the facility.  This will bring 15o jobs to Mesa. This project will be a huge investment for Apple.  They plan on powering it with renewable energy.

It looks like Apple could be letting go of its ambition to include the super resilient sapphire glass in upcoming iPhone models, spending $2 billion to convert the factory it had wanted to produce sapphire glass into a data center.

Before the launch of the iPhone 6 rumors had swirled that it would come with sapphire glass, however it never came to pass. It was later revealed that Apple was working with GT Advanced Technologies Inc to create a sapphire glass production factory in Mesa, Arizona.

The relationship ran into trouble when it became clear that GT Advanced Technologies Inc could not produce the screens at the speed and quantity Apple wanted, and later filed for bankruptcy.

Sapphire is a gem that is slow to grow and very difficult to produce reliably on a large scale. It is also expensive and less environmentally friendly, which could all be reasons why GT Advanced Technologies Inc and Apple’s partnership failed, and why the Cupertino company could be moving away from sapphire.

Apple is now looking to spend $2 billion on turning the 1.3 million-square-foot factory that had been earmarked to produce sapphire glass into a large data center to help power its cloud-based services such as the Siri virtual assistant.

Kristin Huguet, a spokesperson for Apple, said: “we’re proud to continue investing in the U.S. with a new data center in Arizona, which will serve as a command center for our global networks. This multibillion-dollar project is one of the largest investments we’ve ever made.”

This move could spell an end to Apple’s sapphire ambitions, although it may only be temporary. If a company can come up with a more reliable way of creating sapphire glass with better yields, then it might get a rather enthusiastic phone call from Apple.

The data center will employ 150 full-time Apple employees and will create 300 to 500 construction and trade jobs, Doug Ducey, Arizona’s governor, said in a telephone interview. The factory will be powered by 100 percent renewable energy, including from a new local solar farm, Apple said.

Apple has pledged to completely power the facility with renewable energy, building out solar projects in the process.

Apple also will invest to build and finance solar projects, which will produce enough energy to power more than 14,500 Arizona homes, the state said in a statement.

“This multibillion-dollar project is one of the largest investments we’ve ever made, and when completed it will add over 600 engineering and construction jobs to the more than one million jobs Apple has already created in the U.S.” Apple said in a statement on the project.

For its part, the Arizona government was happy to announce the major investment.

“This is a great day for Arizona, and we have moved rapidly to make this happen and take advantage of Apple’s interest in our state,” Ducey said in a release. “Apple is by far one of the most innovative and successful companies in the world. Its decision to bring this new facility to Mesa is a huge win for Arizona and a high testament to our business-friendly climate and talented workforce.”

“This expansion will bring a significant economic investment, and propel Arizona’s position as one of the best states in the nation in which to do business,” he added.

Apple’s renewable energy initiatives set a high bar for its competitors, according to a statement from Greenpeace following the Apple announcement.

“Other major data center operators, especially market leader Amazon Web Services, should begin to match the speed and scale of Apple’s progress by adopting renewable energy at a pace that matches their growth,” Greenpeace Senior IT Sector Analyst Gary Cook said in the news release.