Apple makes $850m solar energy commitment in California

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Apple is continuing on its quest to embrace renewable sources of energy by announcing a $850 million investment in the development of a new Calfornia-based solar farm.

The tech giant has agreed to pay green energy experts First Solar, who will operate the site in California, as part of a 25-year power purchase agreement.

Apple CEO Tim Cook fleshed out details of the deal during a talk at the Goldman Sachs Technology Conference yesterday, revealing the solar energy will be used to power some of its retail sites and datacentres.

"We at Apple know climate change is real. The time for talk is past and the time for action is now," he said, according to a report on MacRumours.

"We're partnering with First Solar to build a new 1,300 acre solar farm in Monterey, California. Enough renewable energy for all of our Apple Campus 2, every other office we have in California, all 52 Apple retail stores in California, and our datacentre in Newark, California.

"It's the right thing to do both socially and financially," he added.

The solar farm's construction is due to start in the middle of this year, and is on course for completion before the end of 2016.

The deal has also been hailed as the largest of its kind to centre on the provision of clean energy to a commercial end user, and has won the backing of environmental campaigners Greenpeace.

Gary Cook, senior IT sector analyst at Greenpeace, said news of the deal further proves that Apple is certainly not all talk and no action when it comes to embracing renewable power.

"It's one thing to talk about being 100 per cent renewably powered, but it's quite another thing to make good on that commitment with the incredible speed and integrity that Apple has shown in the past two years.

"Apple still has work to do to reduce its environmental footprint, 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."

News of the deal coincides with the announcement that Apple's market value now stands at $711 billion, making it the first US company in history to achieve a market cap of more than $700 billion at close of trading on Wall Street.

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.