Apple working with US energy company on North Carolina solar farm

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
While companies from China dominate solar panel production, Apple has opted to partner with an American company to help build its forthcoming solar farm in North Carolina, AppleInsider has learned.



Leaf Solar Power, a renewable energy company based out of Lake Worth, Fla., is working with Apple on a new solar farm that will power its $1 billion data center, according to a person familiar with the ongoing project. Leaf Solar's involvement in Apple's North Carolina solar farm may be the the company's largest and most lucrative partnership yet, as Leaf's official LinkedIn page notes that it specializes in residential and "small" commercial projects in South Florida.



Last month, local permits revealed that Apple is planning to build a solar farm across from its massive data center in Maiden, N.C. Details for the project have not yet been revealed, as a permit obtained by Apple simply applies to erosion control.



More details on the solar farm will surface when Apple decides to formally apply for a building permit -- a process that could also expose the full extent of Leaf Solar's involvement in the project. When contacted by AppleInsider on Tuesday, a person representing Leaf Solar declined to comment.



The company is also said to have co-developed solar projects in Tennessee, and also allegedly received a request for proposal for a 17-megawatt solar farm in Arizona. The person said the company is also looking to open a 300-megawatt "world class manufacturing facility," but AppleInsider could not confirm the accuracy of these claims.



The move by Apple to conduct business with a U.S.-based solar company comes at a time when production of solar panels has been increasingly sent overseas. In particular, solar panel production has greatly shifted to China over the last two years.



China's dominance in the solar panel market has become such an issue that earlier this year, U.S. President Barack Obama signed a law with a "Buy American" provision for the purchase of solar panels by the Defense Department. The U.S. government hopes the American military's investment in renewable energy can be kept stateside, rather than sending money overseas for solar panels built in China.



The extent of Leaf Solar's involvement in Apple's North Carolina solar farm is not yet apparent, but the company's recently updated website does name "Solar Farms" under its list of products offered. A business description listed on Yelp also notes that Leaf Solar "specializes in solar power installation, including solar hot water heaters, solar pool heating, and solar electric energy."







Apple's massive data center in North Carolina was first announced in July of 2009. The $1 billion project eventually opened this spring to support Apple's online services, including iTunes and the newly launched iCloud.



Use of sustainable energy at facilities including data centers is not new for Apple. The company's website boasts that just 2 percent of its energy footprint comes from facilities, while its operations in Austin, Tex.; Sacramento, Calif.; and Cork, Ireland; use 100 percent renewable energy.







Apple's commitment to green energy has been well documented, but the company's partnerships with overseas companies, particularly for assembly of popular devices like the iPhone and iPad, have also generated negative publicity. In particular, Apple's relationship with Foxconn, which runs a number of massive assembly facilities in China, has come under fire on numerous occasions.



Every year Apple audits its overseas partners, and one report issued this February revealed that the company terminated business with a facility that employed 42 underage workers. The audit also uncovered one case of bribery, in which a facility manager offered cash to Apple's third-party auditors to reduce the number of audit filings, prompting Apple to cease business with the company.



Given the controversies that stem from Apple's partnerships with overseas companies, the company's believed decision to broker a deal with a U.S.-based renewable energy company, rather than outsourcing the work to China, could be viewed as significant. The apparent deal could also help to fuel investment in homegrown "green" energy solutions, bolstering America's role in the push for renewable power while creating sustainable jobs in the area.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 57
    tylerk36tylerk36 Posts: 1,037member
    Good Job Apple.
  • Reply 2 of 57
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    ... its operations in Austin, Tex.; Sacramento, Calif.; and Cork, Ireland; use 100 percent renewable energy.



    The one here is 100% powered by rain.
  • Reply 3 of 57
    radarradar Posts: 271member
    Good job Apple on using solar.



    Good job Apple on not giving all the jobs and business to China.



    Developments like this definitely make me more likely to remain a loyal Apple user. I imagine Jobs had a major role in these decisions
  • Reply 4 of 57
    Perhaps Apple feels like putting a little money back into the US economy. They pay relatively little US taxes and keep Billions in overseas accounts. Cue the Occupy ... folks.
  • Reply 5 of 57
    Great PR move. I like this plan, it may cost a little more to do business here, but we need the jobs.
  • Reply 6 of 57
    paxmanpaxman Posts: 4,579member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Radar View Post


    Good job Apple on using solar.



    Good job Apple on not giving all the jobs and business to China.



    Developments like this definitely make me more likely to remain a loyal Apple user. I imagine Jobs had a major role in these decisions



    I get the feeling Tim Cook lean towards alternative energy and home production.
  • Reply 7 of 57
    I just read yesterday about Apple's fair paying of taxes in COM

    http://www.cultofmac.com/128089/appl...-taxes-report/

    So how do you claim Apple is not paying its fair share???? Got milk?



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by tcphoto View Post


    Perhaps Apple feels like putting a little money back into the US economy. They pay relatively little US taxes and keep Billions in overseas accounts. Cue the Occupy ... folks.



  • Reply 8 of 57
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Banalltv View Post


    The one here is 100% powered by rain.



    haha!



    Send some of that to Texas.
  • Reply 9 of 57
    adamcadamc Posts: 551member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by tcphoto View Post


    Perhaps Apple feels like putting a little money back into the US economy. They pay relatively little US taxes and keep Billions in overseas accounts. Cue the Occupy ... folks.



    They are one of the very few which pay this amount of tax and I can't say for companies like google and MS.
  • Reply 10 of 57
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by tcphoto View Post


    Perhaps Apple feels like putting a little money back into the US economy. They pay relatively little US taxes and keep Billions in overseas accounts. Cue the Occupy ... folks.



    I believe the billions that they keep in overseas accounts are revenues that they made in other countries that they have not "repatriated." Apple is hoping for a tax deal in which they can bring that money to the US at a lower tax rate.



    This is different than the practice of some other corporations of moving their headquarters to the Cayman islands (for example) and moving profits made in the US to tax free accounts there.
  • Reply 11 of 57
    radarradar Posts: 271member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by paxman View Post


    I get the feeling Tim Cook lean towards alternative energy and home production.



    Let's hope so; good job so far.
  • Reply 12 of 57
    apple ][apple ][ Posts: 8,360member
    At least Apple is not partnering with Solyndra for their new solar farm.
  • Reply 13 of 57
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    The solar thermal unit pictured in the article is apparently made by SolarTron Energy Systems Inc. located in Canada. I was trying to find out how it converts thermal to electric power but it doesn't explain that part on the website
  • Reply 14 of 57
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by LizardLiquer View Post


    I just read yesterday about Apple's fair paying of taxes in COM

    http://www.cultofmac.com/128089/appl...-taxes-report/

    So how do you claim Apple is not paying its fair share???? Got milk?



    thanks for the link, which is quite interesting.



    one of comments by "ochyming":



    [

    Apple manufactures in China because of Google and Microsoft.



    Apple competes directly with the cartels that sell Google and Microsoft products. And those cartels make their products mainly in asian countries.



    funny how people criticizes Apple because of FoxConn without asking WHY Apple is outsourcing.



    Microsoft and Google biz model kills the innovation urge.

    How many innovations DELL, Sony, or any other computer maker made compared with Apple in a decade regarding hardware, not to say OS?



    -- They need NOT to, because being lazy suits them. So now most of them are struggling to make money. So they copy Apple research results in hardware.

    ]
  • Reply 15 of 57
    What is impressive is how quietly Apple goes about this. No big press conferences, no collaborations with high-profile NGOs (e.g., the Clinton Foundation) to get the attention of the media, no big events in Washington D C to impress Congress etc.



    Compare that to Google which made such a song and dance about the fact that it had finally done something as basic and obvious as carbon footprinting....http://www.guardian.co.uk/environmen...rbon-footprint. And that too, as late as just a couple of months ago! (Apple has been quietly undertaking carbon footprinting - and reporting the results on its website - for every single product in its portfolio across their entire life cycles, since 2009!).



    That's class.
  • Reply 16 of 57
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mstone View Post


    The solar thermal unit pictured in the article is apparently made by SolarTron Energy Systems Inc. located in Canada. I was trying to find out how it converts thermal to electric power but it doesn't explain that part on the website



    It doesn't convert thermal to electric, that unit is for making Hot Water - Heating, not electricity generation.
  • Reply 17 of 57
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 4,239member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Apple ][ View Post


    At least Apple is not partnering with Solyndra for their new solar farm.



    All the Solyndra hoopla aside, they actually made some pretty cool solar cells. Instead of the typical flat-panels one sees everywhere, theirs were more cylindrical which resulted in more sunlight being collected regardless of the position of the sun in the sky.



    Unfortunately, that technology - like solar cells in general - was very expensive and Solyndra could not compete with the low-cost products coming out of China and elsewhere.



    The political fallout that Solyndra caused is an entirely different matter for a different forum. I do hope the cylinder panels do get a second life somewhere.
  • Reply 18 of 57
    apple ][apple ][ Posts: 8,360member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by sflocal View Post


    Unfortunately, that technology - like solar cells in general - was very expensive and Solyndra could not compete with the low-cost products coming out of China and elsewhere.



    Yes, I remember reading about how they actually had a decent product, but that hardly matters of course, if it is way more costly than anything else.
  • Reply 19 of 57
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AdamC View Post


    They are one of the very few which pay this amount of tax and I can't say for companies like google and MS.



    I don't know where you get your 31%, but based on their latest audited annual financials, here are the effective tax rates for some of the oft-discussed companies:



    Google 21%

    Apple 25%

    IBM 25%

    Amazon 24%

    Microsoft 18%

    EBay 14%



    Contrary to what is popularly believed - and leaving aside stupid, apocryphal tales like that of a GE that paid zero in taxes (which was because it was carrying forward prior losses as allowed under the law) - many good, profitable companies in the US pay their 'fair share'. (Well, I guess EBay and Microsoft could cough up a bit more....)
  • Reply 20 of 57
    Good for Apple. Good for the United States. Good for the U.S. solar industry. Screw China.
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