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The seemingly-omnipresent tech juggernaut Apple has begun taking its first steps into providing renewable energy as a utility company.
As many large companies are doing, Apple originally ventured into producing its own energy as a means to offset its reliance on the national grids of its host countries, reducing the cost of electricity and heat drastically for Apple facilities and allowing them access to secure supplies of power far from the possible price hikes and outages of the national grid.
However, as Apple’s personal energy plants became more productive and more efficient, it started to become apparent that they had the potential to exceed Apple’s demand for electricity, and become a profitable enterprise in their own right. With the decision to sell their excess energy comes the creation of an all-new subsidiary of Apple, Apple Energy LLC, which filed a tariff application to the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Monday in order to begin selling their electricity to the US populace on the wholesale market.
Apple’s energy generation move is particularly interesting as their generator plants are entirely renewable energy based, consisting of solar power banks, biogas generators and hydroelectric power. Their ultimate goal is to produce enough energy to fully power their global operations using renewable energy and become the first mulinational tech giant to reduce its carbon footprint all the way down to “carbon neutral.”
As part of this dedication to fully-renewable energy usage, Apple’s new company headquarters, “Apple 2,” located in Cupertino, California, is equipped with a full complement of photovoltaic cells able to turn the burning Californian sun into 14MW of pure, clean electricity. This, says Apple, is only the first stage of their plan.
Apple’s central operations will move into the new headquarters next year, making Apple 2 the hub of all Apple’s global dealings and coordination, a vital nexus for the company that will be powered entirely by solar power cells found on-site. Not only will the new headquarters save astronomical amounts of money by avoiding paying for their electricity supply, they will also be insulated against any problems in the US national grid. Apple’s self-sustaining headquarters will not only be carbon neutral – it will be able to keep running and keep business as usual even in the event of a total power failure to the state, or even the region.
As unlikely as such a power outage is, with the amount of money, influence and opportunity flowing through the Apple central command building, it makes sense to keep the lights on.
Apple’s renewable power plan continues to unfold, with the purchase of other solar power plants and the construction of Apple’s own in other areas. For example, in 2015, Apple bought a solar power farm from First Solar that is able to generate 130MW, almosty 10 times what the Apple central offices need. The tech giant has also affirmed a commitment to build an additional 521MW of solar power generation globally in the next five years.
If Apple’s tariff application is greenlit by the USD Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, it will free them to sell their energy directly to customers, instead of having to sell it to a utility company first. They are not the first tech giant to attempt to sell electricity, however, as in 2010, Google applied for the same rights and were approved.