Apple to build 200MW solar farm to power data center

Apple is working toward 100% renewable energy use

Apple announced today a joint venture with Nevada Energy (NV Energy) to build out 200MW of photovoltaic solar capacity to power its data center in Reno, Nevada.

The solar farm is expected to be live by early 2019.

Apple’s data center is located at the Reno Technology Park; the company has also submitted plans to build another data center campus adjacent to its existing one.

Apple has steadily been working toward a goal of 100% renewable energy over the past several years. It already uses 100% renewable energy for its data center in North Carolina; some of it comes from a biofuels plant and the rest from solar farms.

In 2015, Apple announced all of its U.S. facilities -- and 87% of its operations worldwide -- were powered by renewable energy. In Singapore, for example, the company is powering its manufacturing facilities with 32MW of solar panels that are located atop more than 800 rooftops. In China, the company is adding 170MW of solar power to supplement power used to manufacture iPhones and other products there.

Also in 2015, Apple announced it was investing $848 million in a solar farm to power its California operations, including its new Cupertino campus, along with retail stores and a data center in Fremont. The deal pushed Apple past Walmart as the largest corporate user of solar power. The 2015 solar project represented 130MW of solar power through a 25-year purchasing agreement from the California Flats Solar Project.

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Apple built a 50MW solar power plant on 300 acres in Florence, Ariz., which is used to power its Mesa data center.

Last September, Apple joined the global renewable energy initiative RE100, an organization committed to helping companies and municipalities reach 100% renewable energy.

"Investing in innovative clean energy sources is vital to Apple's commitment to reaching, and maintaining, 100% renewable energy across all our operations," Lisa Jackson, Apple's vice president for environment, policy and social initiatives, stated in a news release. "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."

In the coming weeks, NV Energy will file an application with the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada to enter into a power purchase agreement for the new solar power plant.

The project will bring NV Energy's total to more than 529MW of new solar capacity under construction in Nevada, or under review for approval.

"Apple will also dedicate up to 5MW of power to NV Energy's future subscription solar program for residential and commercial customers," the company stated.

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