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Apple Given the Nod to Sell Power from Its Solar Farm

01 Sep 14:00 by Steve Walia

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Technology giant Apple has been given permission to sell green energy from the solar farm that it owns in California, which has seen investment to the tune of £645 million to date.

Only last year, Tim Cook, the company's CEO, said that action was needed immediately at a policy, corporate and individual level in order to mitigate the damaging effects of climate change.

It subsequently bought a 2,900-acre energy facility in California's Monterey County which has 130 MW of solar capacity. Now it has been given permission to sell the power into wholesale energy markets. The site is able to produce sufficient energy to power more than 60,000 homes.

Apple has previously invested in solar and other types of renewable energy, but this is its largest investment to date.

Other sources of green energy, such as wind power, tend to still be cheaper than solar energy, but the costs of solar are rapidly dropping, and investments in the technology at this scale help to hasten that downward cost curve, which is positive for the industry.

However, solar power requires a back-up due to the intermittent underlying energy source. For this reason, Apple also invests in thermal power plants for a reliable back-up capacity.

Apple will be able to sell its own energy at rates set by the market. The company also owns a 20MW plant in Nevada and a 50MW plant in Arizona. The California site is able to power all of Apple's offices and stores, a data centre and its HQ.

Last summer, Google made similar moves to invest in renewables by purchasing 236MW of green energy capacity from two overseas wind farms in Norway and Sweden. The trend is also being mimicked by other global tech firms.