11 February 2015

Apple to invest $848m in First Solar clean energy

Apple will invest US$848 million (£555m) in a 130MW solar farm in California as part of a newly announced partnership with First Solar.

The tech giant has signed a 25-year power purchase agreement for electricity generated by First Solar's California Flats Solar Project in Monterey County.

The companies said the deal represents the largest agreement in the industry to provide clean energy to a commercial end user.

Apple chief executive Tim Cook (pictured) announced the deal and the company's value rose to nearly $711bn, making it the first U.S. firm to close with a market cap above $700bn.

Cook has been a firm supporter of measures to address climate change and the company already uses renewable energy to power all its data centres.

Apple revealed plans last week for a giant solar-powered global data hub in Arizona.

Joe Kishkill, chief commercial officer for First Solar, said in a statement: "Apple is leading the way in addressing climate change by showing how large companies can serve their operations with 100 per cent clean, renewable energy. 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 California Flats Solar Project is expected to cover 2,900-acres and construction is scheduled to begin in mid-2015 and be completed by the end of 2016.

The output of the remaining 150MW of the site will be sold to Pacific Gas & Electric under a separate long-term agreement.

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