Apple Signs £500m Energy Deal With Solar Farm

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

Apple to cut energy costs at its campus and stores by using renewable power from a new solar farm

Apple is to buy $848 million (£556m) worth of power from a new solar farm being built in Monterey County, California, in a bit to reduce its energy bill.

The First Solar Inc plant will supply renewable energy for Apple’s new campus in Silicon Valley, as well other offices and 52 Apple stores in California. The farm will also supply energy to an Apple data centre in Newark, California

Energy Deal

solar panel power plant field © Vaclav Volrab Shutterstock“We expect to have a very significant savings because we have a fixed price for the renewable energy, and there’s quite a difference between that price and the price of brown energy,” Cook was quoted as saying.

“We know in Apple that climate change is real. The time for talk is passed,” he added. “The time for action is now.”

First Solar makes solar panels and builds solar power plants, many of which it sells to power producers. The construction of the 2,900-acre solar farm is expected to start in mid-2015 and finish by the end of next year.

Apple’s deal with First Solar will see it receive electricity from 130 megawatts of capacity under a 25-year purchase agreement. The deal is being touted as the largest in the industry to provide clean energy to a commercial end user. The farm’s remaining 150 megawatts will go to Pacific Gas and Electric Co.

“Apple is leading the way in addressing climate change by showing how large companies can serve their operations with 100 percent clean, renewable energy,” said Joe Kishkill, Chief Commercial Officer for First Solar in a statement.

“Apple’s commitment was instrumental in making this project possible and will significantly increase the supply of solar power in California,” he added. “Over time, the renewable energy from California Flats will provide cost savings over alternative sources of energy as well as substantially lower environmental impact.”

Solar Savings

This is not the first time that Apple has dabbled with solar power.

Back in 2013, Apple announced that it was building a solar farm to power its data centre in Reno, Nevada. That 18 MegaWatt solar array powers the tech giant’s data centre in that area, and it builds on Apple’s promise that its data centres will use 100 percent renewable power.

Then last month Apple revealed it would spend £1.3 billion converting a sapphire glass factory in Arizona into a data centre, a project which is one the company’s biggest ever investments. That site will reportedly operate exclusively on renewable energy.

Apple is also reportedly looking at making its rumoured upcoming smartwatch, entirely powered by solar or kinetic power, so it never needs to be plugged in.

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