July 01, 2013 - In a partnership with Nevada utility NV Energy, Apple plans to build a solar farm that will output between 18 and 20 megawatts of power, reports GigaOM. Apple's two solar arrays in Maiden, N.C. also generate around 20MW of energy each.
Instead of using a traditional setup, Apple is working with SunPower to construct a system that uses mirrors to concentrate the sun's energy by seven times onto conventional solar panels. SunPower, which helped Apple build out its Maiden solar farms, has also been tapped to engineer the tracking technology that will sync the mirrors to follow the path of the sun for maximum efficiency.
Further, Apple is one of the first companies to take advantage of a new environmentally-friendly tariff set up by Nevada's utility commission. With its partnership with NV Energy, the company will be able to pay for the build cost. Under the tariff, NV Energy can one day opt to pay Apple to use the solar farm, or buy the array outright. In addition, Apple can expand the array in the future.
Apple also issued a statement regarding the project:
"All of Apple's data centers use 100 percent renewable energy, and we are on track to meet that goal in our new Reno data center using the latest in high-efficiency concentrating solar panels. This project will not only supply renewable energy for our data center but also provide clean energy to the local power grid, through a first-of-its-kind partnership with NV Energy. When completed, the 137 acre solar array will generate approximately 43.5 million kilowatt hours of clean energy, equivalent to taking 6,400 passenger vehicles off the road per year."