Apple to build a giant US$848m 130 megawatt solar farm in California

11 Feb 2015

Pictured: Apple's new 2.8m sq ft Apple Campus 2

Apple is to build a US$848m, 130 megawatt solar farm in California that will produce enough energy to power its new spaceship headquarters and all of its retail stores in California, equal to 60,000 homes.

In what is the biggest leap into solar energy by any US tech giant Apple is partnering with First Solar to build a 2,900-acre solar farm in Monterey in California.

Under the 25-year power purchase agreement – the largest agreement in the industry to provide clean energy to a commercial end user – construction Is to begin in mid-2015 and will be completed by the end of 2016.

The output of the remaining 150MW of the project will be sold to Pacific Gas & Electric.

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

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

‘Climate change is real. The time for talk is past’ says Tim Cook

A ground-level view of Apple Campus 2

The new solar farm will produce enough energy to power 60,000 homes in California but will primarily used to pump energy into Apple’s new ‘spaceship’ campus in Silicon Valley, all of its offices in California, all of its stores in California as well as an entire data centre in Newark.

The move sets a new standard in energy usage by tech companies and no doubt other tech CEOs will be following suit.

Speaking at the annual Goldman Sachs tech conference Cook said: “We at Apple know climate change is real. The time for talk is past and the time for action is now.

“All of our data centers are now on renewable energy. Just today, we’re announcing our most ambitious project ever. We’re partnering with First Solar to build a new 1300 acre solar farm in Monterey, California.

“Enough renewable energy for all of our new Apple Campus 2, every other office we have in California, all 52 Apple retail stores in California, and our data center in Newark, California. US$850 million investment.

“It’s the right thing to do both socially and financially,” Cook said.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years