Apple's $848M solar power deal better on back end, says environmental VP Lisa Jackson

Posted:
in General Discussion edited March 2015
The $848 million solar power deal Apple signed with First Solar last month is a better value than some have suggested, according to vice president of Environmental Initiatives Lisa Jackson, who on Thursday pointed to a surge in the amount of power Apple will receive towards the end of the contract.




First Solar is constructing a 280-megawatt solar farm, from which Apple is officially slated to have 130 megawatts for 25 years. PG&E will get the other 150 megawatts.

On paper this appears to be a so-so deal for Apple, costing the company between 8 and 14 cents per kilowatt hour. According to Fortune, however, Jackson revealed at Thursday's Wall Street Journal Eco:nomics conference that Apple will eventually acquire the entire 280 megawatts.

"Something that most people don't understand is that on the back end of the deal, it goes from a 130-megawatt deal to 280 megawatts," she said in an interview. "Toward the end of the 25-year period -- I'm not going to say when -- we get the rest of that."

PG&E's deal is in fact just for 15 years, meaning that at some point thereafter Apple will be able to scoop up that remaining share. This would double the amount of electricity Apple is acquiring, while the price remains the same.

The solar farm will occupy some 2,900 acres in California's Monterey County. Should it receive all needed approvals construction is scheduled to start in mid-2015, and finish by the end of next year. 130 megawatts should be enough to power virtually all of Apple's California operations, including the Campus 2 facility, which will have its own roof-mounted solar array.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 48

    Even though there will be degradation of panel quality at the end of 15 years, this is still a good deal for Apple. If it is indeed true that the cost to Apple is ¢8 to ¢14/kWh, that is not at all unreasonable, especially for California.

     

    (In December 2014, the average cost/kWh for commercial eletricity in CA was ¢14.09. http://www.eia.gov/electricity/monthly/epm_table_grapher.cfm?t=epmt_5_6_a)

  • Reply 2 of 48
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

     

    Even though there will be degradation of panel quality at the end of 15 years, this is still a good deal for Apple. If it is indeed true that the cost to Apple is ¢8 to ¢14/kWh, that is not at all unreasonable, especially for California.

     

    (In December 2014, the average cost/kWh for commercial eletricity in CA was ¢14.09. http://www.eia.gov/electricity/monthly/epm_table_grapher.cfm?t=epmt_5_6_a)


     

    Especially if that is a fixed rate and we all know tomorrows dollars won't buy as much as todays.

  • Reply 3 of 48
    prolineproline Posts: 194member

    Irrespective of the finances of this, I strongly support this project for two reason- first, it displaces carbon emissions. Second, it lets environmentalists see solar power for what it will need to become if it is to power our future- multinational companies paving over thousands of acres at a time because unfortunately, putting up a 10 square foot panel on the roof just doesn't cut it. Perhaps over time projects like this will help environmentalists reconsider their stance on nuclear, the only carbon free energy source with little to no environmental impact.

  • Reply 4 of 48
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by proline View Post

     

    Perhaps over time projects like this will help environmentalists reconsider their stance on nuclear, the only carbon free energy source with little to no environmental impact.


    Until something goes wrong. Then the worst possible environmental impact imaginable. Did you already forget about the Fukushima disaster?

  • Reply 5 of 48
    splifsplif Posts: 592member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by proline View Post

     Perhaps over time projects like this will help environmentalists reconsider their stance on nuclear, the only carbon free energy source with little to no environmental impact.

    Hmmmmm....what do they do with all that nuclear waste.

  • Reply 6 of 48
    mike1mike1 Posts: 1,939member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by mstone View Post

     

    Until something goes wrong. Then the worst possible environmental impact imaginable. Did you already forget about the Fukushima disaster?


    Different but not much worse than a bad oil spill. There are risks with almost everything. There are hundreds of nuclear plants around the world running event free, not to mention the hundreds on US Navy ships.

  • Reply 7 of 48
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by mike1 View Post

     

    Different but not much worse than a bad oil spill. There are risks with almost everything. There are hundreds of nuclear plants around the world running event free, not to mention the hundreds on US Navy ships.




    I'm not advocating oil as a better energy source. We already have the mother of all nuclear power plants. It is called the Sun.

  • Reply 8 of 48
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Splif View Post

     

    Hmmmmm....what do they do with all that nuclear waste.


    Modern nuclear plants produce one spoonful of waste per family of four for a lifetime of electricity, and it has a relatively low half life. Far less environmental impact than, say, putting caskets in the ground for eternity (or even just 500 years) at the rate of one per person.

  • Reply 9 of 48
    nagrommenagromme Posts: 2,834member
    Solar is a valuable PART of escaping the fossil fuel crisis. For a residential home, solar on the roof CAN supply you 100%--and you don't have to be in the desert. (But because of the energy/waste that can go into making the panels, I advocate focusing on newer methods/kinds.) Industrial users are going to need empty land... but so do manufacturing plants (not to mention strip mines for coal).

    The sun also powers wind, which is another part.

    Increased power efficiency can be huge as well.

    Maybe let the moon in on the action with some tidal power in certain less-fragile ocean locations.

    Geothermal? If you've got it, use it!

    And I'm all for nuclear--as long as it's in someone ELSE'S back yard. Human incompetence is an infinite resource. It doesn't mix well with ionizing radiation. And the waste remains deadly for a very.... long.... time....
  • Reply 10 of 48
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by TeaEarleGreyHot View Post

     

    Modern nuclear plants...


    There have not been any nuclear power plants built in the US for more than 30 years. Which "modern" plants are you referring to?

  • Reply 11 of 48
    splifsplif Posts: 592member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by TeaEarleGreyHot View Post

     

    Modern nuclear plants produce one spoonful of waste per family of four for a lifetime of electricity, and it has a relatively low half life. Far less environmental impact than, say, putting caskets in the ground for eternity (or even just 500 years) at the rate of one per person.


    The industry's collective pile of waste is growing by about 2,200 tons a year; experts say some of the pools in the United States contain four times the amount of spent fuel that they were designed to handle.

  • Reply 12 of 48
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Splif View Post

     

    The industry's collective pile of waste is growing by about 2,200 tons a year; experts say some of the pools in the United States contain four times the amount of spent fuel that they were designed to handle.




    Not to mention that you need to factor in the cost of decommissioning obsolete power plants such as San Onofre which will cost $4.4 billion.

  • Reply 13 of 48
    I would gladly take fossil fuel emissions over nuclear power. Technology will progress and we will have clean and safe power. Why risk making areas uninhabitable for thousands of years...

    But if there is a major accident, you can definitely count on your leaders to lie and cover it up.
  • Reply 14 of 48
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by whatyouneed View Post



    I would gladly take fossil fuel emissions over nuclear power. Technology will progress and we will have clean and safe power. Why risk making areas uninhabitable for thousands of years...

     

    Per kilowatt-hour, coal plants kill something like 100x the number of people nuclear does. Besides, in a thousand years, we'll have solved the nuclear waste problem, or at least send it into the sun.

     

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by mstone View Post

     

    There have not been any nuclear power plants built in the US for more than 30 years. Which "modern" plants are you referring to?


     

    Four Westinghouse AP1000s are being constructed, subsidized by Obama, Vogtle 3 and 4, and Summer 2 and 3. First will go online in 2018.

     

    What he's talking about with the waste is the burnup fraction. It has improved a bit over time due to engineering of the fuel materials and assemblies. It doesn't take a new reactor.

  • Reply 15 of 48
    paxmanpaxman Posts: 4,615member
    mstone wrote: »
    Until something goes wrong. Then the worst possible environmental impact imaginable. Did you already forget about the Fukushima disaster?
    And Chernobyl was not THAT long ago (April 26, 1986). The effects of that little disaster are well documented - here's a summary http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Effects_of_the_Chernobyl_disaster
  • Reply 16 of 48
    beltsbearbeltsbear Posts: 314member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by whatyouneed View Post



    I would gladly take fossil fuel emissions over nuclear power. Technology will progress and we will have clean and safe power. Why risk making areas uninhabitable for thousands of years...



    But if there is a major accident, you can definitely count on your leaders to lie and cover it up.



    Areas are becoming uninhabitable right now in much larger quantities by global warming, acidification, ash pond contamination of water supplies, and other dangers.  Everyone is ok with huge numbers of dead through indirect deaths well known to be caused by fuel emissions but when the deaths are direct there is no tolerance for it.  The number of people killed by radaiation from power plants in 50 years is less than the deaths in one year due to lung cancer caused by power plant emissions.  Also more people are killed mining for coal each year.  Why is the public so scared of direct radiation deaths but cancer, thats fine. 

  • Reply 17 of 48
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by konqerror View Post

     

     

    Four Westinghouse AP1000s are being constructed, subsidized by Obama


    Is he using his own money? How can he afford it? Don't you mean subsidized by the federal government?

  • Reply 18 of 48
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by BeltsBear View Post

     



    Areas are becoming uninhabitable right now in much larger quantities by global warming, acidification, ash pond contamination of water supplies, and other dangers.  Everyone is ok with huge numbers of dead through indirect deaths well known to be caused by fuel emissions but when the deaths are direct there is no tolerance for it.  The number of people killed by radaiation from power plants in 50 years is less than the deaths in one year due to lung cancer caused by power plant emissions.  Also more people are killed mining for coal each year.  Why is the public so scared of direct radiation deaths but cancer, thats fine. 




    Anyone who is advocating solar energy is not arguing for fossil fuel or coal fired plants. How many deaths are attributed to solar power?

  • Reply 19 of 48
    beltsbearbeltsbear Posts: 314member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by mstone View Post

     



    Anyone who is advocating solar energy is not arguing for fossil fuel or coal fired plants. How many deaths are attributed to solar power?




    A lot less then coal. 

     

    The best solution for power generation in the USA is everything but coal.  Nuclear, wind and solar to replace coal, natural gas for peak times and balancing out low solar production.  Hydro also of course can fill in for solar dips as well.  Eventually stationary battery technology will advance enough for to make wind more practical. 

  • Reply 20 of 48
    konqerrorkonqerror Posts: 685member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mstone View Post

     



    Anyone who is advocating solar energy is not arguing for fossil fuel or coal fired plants. How many deaths are attributed to solar power?


     

    Solar cells take a huge amount of energy to manufacture. The majority of solar cells are made in China. China has cheap coal energy. Put these facts together.

     

    On top of that, solar energy isn't a base load source. Use your computer when it's cloudy? Charge your electric car at night? Not solar.

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