First Solar and Apple sign $848 million 130 MW deal


First Solar continues to pursue its strategy of supplying utility-scale solar to large electricity consumers with the latest deal seeing it supply computing giant Apple. Both companies share prices rose on news of the deal, with Forbes noting an almost 5% surge in First Solar shares and Apple 1.9% by the close of trading yesterday.

The solar park will be located in Monterey County south of San Francisco on a property owned by Hearst Corporation. Apple will vitrually power its Californian headquarters and its stores will the clean electricity produced at the site. The project will cover 2,900 acres (8,094 square meters).

The remaining 20 MW of the 150 MW California Flats Solar Project not purchased by Apple will be sold to Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) under a “long term PPA.”

"Apple’s commitment was instrumental in making this project possible and will significantly increase the supply of solar power in California,” said Joe Kishkill, First Solar’s CCO. Kishkill noted that Apple is demonstrating how large companies can source 100% of their electricity from renewable sources.

The solar park received unanimous approval from the Monterey County Planning Commission with final regulatory sign off to be provided by the Monterey County Board of Supervisors.

Forbes notes that the California Flats Solar Project is the fourth solar farm Apple has funded. Two Apple PV arrays are located in North Carolina and one in Nevada.

Greenpeace celebrated the deal, in a statement today, saying that other Fortune 500 CEOs should look to Apple as positive renewable energy roll model.

"It’s one thing to talk about being 100% 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,” said Greenpeace Senior IT Sector Analyst Gary Cook. However he added that Apple “still has work to do to reduce its environmental footprint.”

First Solar claims that the Apple project marks the industry’s largest commercial power deal.