For Apple solar energy is serious business. It is committed to operating all its stores, offices, and data centers with clean, renewable energy. This week, the company confirmed plans to expand the amount of installed solar power in the state of Nevada by 200 megawatts. The electricity will be used to power Apple’s massive data center located in Reno. The local utility, NV Energy, is a partner in the expansion.
The deal includes the ability to sell up to 5 megawatts of any excess power generated by the new solar installation to other residential and commercial customers in the area using NV Energy’s grid infrastructure. Last year, Apple created a new entity called Apple Energy specifically to market any excess power its solar panels generate to other companies and individuals. That plan was approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Administration.
Apple’s vice president for environment, policy and social initiatives, Lisa Jackson, told the press after the announcement, “Investing in innovative clean energy sources is vital to Apple’s commitment to reaching, and maintaining, 100 percent renewable energy across all our operations. Our partnership with NV Energy helps assure our customers their iMessages, FaceTime video chats and Siri inquiries are powered by clean energy, and supports efforts to offer the choice of green energy to Nevada residents and businesses.” The time table to complete the new Apple solar energy installation is 2019.
What Apple is doing in Nevada is in line with its efforts to use renewable energy for its operations in China. It currently has 200 megawatt of power online in that country which is used to supply its 34 stores and 19 offices in the country. The renewable energy eliminates 20 million metric tons of greenhouse gas pollution that would otherwise occur from Apple’s operations in China over the next 4 years.
“Climate change is one of the great challenges of our time, and the time for action is now,” says Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “The transition to a new green economy requires innovation, ambition and purpose.” And lots of money. Apple fortunately can afford to make the investment in clean energy. According to CNN, it has also begun investing in wind turbines in China to supplement the electricity it gets from solar panels.