Apple just announced the biggest commercial solar agreement to date for a company’s use. Apple signed an $848 million power-purchase agreement with First Solar for 130 megawatts of solar power from the solar company’s 280 megawatt California Flats Solar Project. Apple will use the electricity from the solar array to power operations at its new headquarters the “spaceship” in Cupertino, Calif.
Apple’s CEO Tim Cook announced the agreement at the Goldman Sachs Internet and Technology Conference today. "It's enough to provide renewable energy for all of our new campus, every other office we have in California, all 52 retail stores we have in California and our data center in Newark,” Cook said during the Goldman Sachs meeting.
Under the contract First Solar will supply solar power from the project for 25 years. It’s the first wholesale commercial & industrial PPA that First Solar has developed.
Cook said Apple will pay for the power over time at set rates. ”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 said.
“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. “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.”
The remaining 150 megawatts of PV from at the solar farm will produce energy for Pacific Gas & Electric under a separate PPA. Between the two PPAs the project is now fully subscribed. Construction on the project will begin soon and it is slated for completion by the end of 2016.
Apple has previously used solar to power its other data centers, like the solar power plants in North Carolina. And just last week it announced that its data center in Arizona will be powered by solar power as well. That facility was originally owned by First Solar, then was to become a sapphire manufacturing plant for Apple. When that company was unable to deliver on it promises Apple chose to convert it to a data center, which will be powered by 70 megawatts of solar farms in Arizona.Tweet