|Solar photovoltaic panels in the Utah desert.|
Earlier this week, Apple announced the deal with First Solar, Inc., to buy power from First Solar's California Flats Solar Project in Monterey County, California. Under a 25-year power purchase agreement or PPA, Apple will buy the equivalent of 130 megawatts of the solar project's output.
First Solar is a vertically-integrated solar company, manufacturing solar photovoltaic panels, developing utility-scale photovoltaic power plants, and providing solar project support services. First Solar boasts involvement with over 10 gigawatts of installed solar photovoltaic capacity worldwide. Its resume includes the 550-megawatt Topaz Solar project in California and the 290-megawatt Agua Caliente project, which was once the world's largest operating solar energy project.
First Solar's California Flats Solar Project will occupy a 2,900-acre site on the Jack Ranch in Cholame, California. Owned by Hearst Corporation, the project site was formerly a dryland farm, and occupies about 3% of the Jack Ranch property. First Solar expects to begin construction later this year, and to complete the project by the end of 2016.
With a total project capacity of 280 megawatts, Apple's 130-megawatt commitment covers about 46% of the project's output. The project's remaining 150 megawatts will be sold to utility Pacific Gas & Electric under a separate long-term PPA.
Apple has developed other renewable energy projects, including fuel cells and solar panels at its Maiden, North Carolina data center. Other high-tech companies have also made significant investments in renewable energy, including Google's commitment of over $1.5 billion to solar and wind projects through power purchase agreements and direct investments.