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Apple to Build $848 Million Solar Farm

The project will supply energy to Apple's corporate campuses, data centers and stores in California.

Anthony Quintano for Re/code

Apple will build an $848 million solar energy farm in Monterey County, Calif., a project Chief Executive Tim Cook described as the company’s “biggest, boldest and most ambitious project ever.”

Cook used Tuesday’s Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference to announce that Apple would partner with First Solar to build the California Flats Solar Project to supply energy to Apple’s corporate campuses and data centers.

“We know at Apple that climate change is real, and our view is that the time for talk has passed and the time for action is now,” Cook said.

Cook said the company’s energy-hungry data centers are powered by solar electricity. The partnership with First Solar is another order of magnitude larger commitment to renewable energy.

“I know this is a financial conference, and I’m sure some of you are interested in, ‘Well is that a good use of funds or not?'” Cook said. “And quite frankly we’re doing this because it’s right to do, but you may also be interested to know that it’s good financially to do it. We expect to have a very significant savings because we have a fixed price for the renewable energy, and there’s quite a difference between that price and the price of brown energy.”

A 25-year power purchase agreement between Apple and First Solar will give the technology company power at a fixed cost and will produce enough electricity to power the Apple Campus 2, other corporate offices in California, its data center in Newark and 52 Apple stores in the state.

Construction will start this year and is expected to be finished by the end of 2016.

The solar farm is part of the California Flats project, which is on Hearst’s Jack Ranch. The plant will occupy 1,300 of the ranch’s 73,000 acres. First Solar said the project won approval from the Monterey County Planning Commission, which is sending it on to the county board of supervisors for final approval.

Environmental advocacy group Greenpeace issued a statement praising Apple.

“Apple still has work to do to reduce its environmental footprint,” Greenpeace Sector Analyst Gary Cook said. “But other Fortune 500 CEOs would be well served to make a study of Tim Cook, whose actions show that he intends to take Apple full-speed ahead toward renewable energy with the urgency that our climate crisis demands.”

This article originally appeared on Recode.net.

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