Why Apple, Warren Buffett, and Google love the Mojave Desert

“The $100 billion solar power industry is gaining a lot of attention both globally and domestically, attracting high-profile investment from Wall Street giants such as Apple, Google and Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway,” Jackie DeAngelis reports for CNBC. “One of the most desirable locations for building domestic solar facilities is in the Mojave Desert—25,000 square miles of sun-baked terrain spanning southeastern California, plus portions of Nevada, Arizona and Utah. It’s no surprise that some of the world’s most sophisticated solar plants are popping up there, showcasing the latest developments in the industry.”

“One notable, completed project is called Ivanpah, a partnership between NRG and BrightSource, which broke ground about three years ago. The $2.2 billion project was able to get up and running thanks in part to $1.6 billion in government loans, plus Google’s 20 percent investment,” DeAngelis reports. “Another set of photovoltaic facilities making headlines are the Solar Star Projects developed by SunPower and acquired by MidAmerican Solar for roughly $2 billion. Berkshire Hathaway’s energy unit owns MidAmerican Solar’s parent, MidAmerican Renewables, which is working on a basket of different solar projects.”

“However, there are some challenges within the industry, infrastructure is one. ‘The great concern is that the generation that is being built can’t get to the markets where it is needed or demanded by the renewable portfolio standards, so there is a problem getting the transmission built associated with solar to get it to those marketplaces,’ said Jason Hutt, Partner at Bracewell Giuliani,” DeAngelis reports. “Hutt also points out that it will take a significant amount of time before the use of solar power is common enough to make a pervasive impact. ‘I’m not aware of an estimate of when solar takes over as an industry, but I think it’s fair to say we’re a long way away,’ Hutt said. ‘If Congress and the Administration want to see the type of build they’ve seen in solar so far, they’re going to have to continue to subsidize that because the technology just isn’t yet in a place where it can compete without it.'”

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Lynn Weiler” for the heads up.]

Related articles:
Apple plans Nevada solar farm to generate clean power for data center – July 2, 2013
Apple now gets 75 percent of its total power needs from renewable energy – March 21, 2013
Apple’s NC and Oregon data centers to use 100 percent renewable energy – May 17, 2012
Bloom Energy confirms they will supply fuel cells for Apple’s North Carolina data center – April 30, 2012
New aerial images of Apple’s planned NC fuel cell, solar farms published – April 7, 2012
Apple’s massive fuel cell energy project to be largest in the U.S. – April 4, 2012
Apple plans USA’s largest private fuel cell energy project in North Carolina – April 1, 2012
How Apple took the lead on the environment – February 22, 2012
Apple patent application reveals next-gen fuel cell powered Macs and iOS devices – December 22, 2011
Apple’s Mothership campus solar roof will be among biggest in U.S. – December 7, 2011
Apple working with US company, Leaf Solar Power, on North Carolina solar farm – November 8, 2011
Apple patent app details highly-advanced hydrogen fuel cells to power portable devices – October 20, 2011
Apple building huge solar farm around its billion-dollar North Carolina data center – October 26, 2011


    1. What organisation doesn’t benefit from keeping a pit bull or two? Apple were beginning to get too nicey-nice, too boring for the scandal rags. Sometimes tradition becomes a shroud, but not yet for Apple, I see.

  1. We must go solar and reduce our planet’s carbon dioxide levels but there is a classic battle between the folks that make money off fossil carbon dioxide emitting fuels and the sun power people. Power Utilities are trying to limit the popularity of sun arrays because of lost revenue (screw them since they screwed us for long enough) and government now wants to tax the free sun power. Why not tax the air we breathe while you’re at it?

    1. Do you really think there is no money to be made off solar? It’s just a notoriously difficult energy source to use. It’s not terribly efficient (yet). The last estimate I read showed that if you took all of the “renewable” energy power generated in this country, all wind and solar, it wouldn’t come close to generating the energy of one moderately sized coal mine.

      It’s hard to compete with that. In addition there is the inefficient use of space. We can’t rationally blanket Southern California with solar cells to feed Northern California with power.

      Then there are only some regions where it’s even moderately successful due to weather conditions.

      On top of all of this is storage of power. You can’t store up energy that’s part of the grid. (yet).

      Power Utilities aren’t limiting the popularity of solar. Most are providing programs to individuals to cover their houses with solar. Many are lowering personal electric bills based on power solar back to the utility company.

      The LA DWP is aiming for 33% renewables by 2020. But guess what? That power is going to be REALLY EXPENSIVE. Electric bills go up every year. (The biggest problem is the massive union benefits we pay the DWP, and the salaries are a joke. You have welders and clerical people making well over 6 figures, and top people retiring on as much a $300,000 per year).

      High prices lead to the fear that once again, the noble aims produce unintended consequences. Poor families will be hurt the most.

      If we really want to help, I think those of us who can should get rid of our cars. I did, and every time I think I might want a car, look at the cost of purchase + ownership + maintenance + fuel + storage, and it makes no sense. Add to that the change in size of my “personal O2 footprint” and I simply cannot justify it. It’s far cheaper for me to use Uber these days.

      1. Well put. There is the problem of balancing investment against potential to improve the efficiency of a new technology against the presently superior efficiency of long developed alternative that are however very mature with arguable futures too. No easy answer.

        1. Fortunately there is one easy answer: time.

          Its clear from physics and materials science that the kinks to solar and other renewables will be solved, just not tomorrow.

      2. 1-Germany produces an amazing amount of Solar in the cloudiest country in Europe. Kinda blows that we can’t pave SoCal with panels for everyone else out of the water.
        2-There are many ways to store solar for off peak use. Molten Salt for Thermal Storage, Batteries, Physical Mass Storage come to mind and wind can be used along with solar. The wind blows at night.
        3-“…the energy of one moderately sized coal mine.” Coal Mines do not produce power.
        4-Re:”Power Utilities aren’t limiting the popularity of solar” The Koch Bros and their astroturf minions are trying to do everything under the sun to kill renewables. Oklahoma wants to tax your solar panels, courtesy of an ALEC written law. They are also fighting Smart Grid and Net Metering.

        1. Germany is paying 6 to 8 times more for solar than the electricity from their mothballed nuclear plants.

          Prices for power in Germany are so high there that the country is restarting all of their nuclear plants.

          When the sun don’t shine and the wind don’t blow we will all be in the dark.

          1. Very rarely is there an instance when both happen simultaneously and there are a number of ways to store the energy for use during lulls. Thermal storage of solar with various media is already in commercial use- store the heat in the daytime and use it at night.

          1. People would not bitch about the Kochs if they would stop the 24/7/365 fanaticism. Those bastards through their proxy organizations essentially bought our State Legislature with a tidal wave of money, Now that it is full of Republicans sponsored by Koch, the ALEC (another Koch funded activity) written laws are starting to roll out like cookies at Nabisco.

            Exactly how many yachts can they water ski behind?

            1. George Soros gave a relatively small amount of money to help start Moveon.org almost a decade ago- the Kochs have poured hundreds of millions into a rainbow of organizations over decades to warp the political system to their advantage and profit.

              Not exactly the same thing.

            2. Darwin you are under-informed about the involvement of George Soros…he outspends the Koch brothers in political involvement 20-1 with hundreds of political action committees and 527 advocacy groups…

      3. “We can’t rationally blanket Southern California with solar cells to feed Northern California with power.”

        No, but I would be in favor of blanketing Northern California to feed Southern California. 😉

    2. Solar power wont work neither will wind in the end other than for small pockets of energy. Besides they kill birds and destroy the scenery. Plus mining for the minerals to produce both of these costs alot of money and will cause alot of environmental damage. Most of these are mined in China with NO environmental standards. So what is the gain? We need Nuclear power plain and simple.

      1. Maybe you could invent a “Mr. Fusion” cuz fission energy sources ain’t a great idea. Industrial solar power will kill a negligible numbers of flying creatures during the day, certainly none with solar panels for home, and I think solar panels look rather fashionable out in the desert where no one really sees them.

  2. Utter ignorance.. Lets destroy a pristine landscape and fill it with solar panels for what? to generate electricity that would barely power a reasonable size city, when are people with brains actually going to figure out that there is no global warming, that its been cooling for a while.

    And I would rather be warm then cool any day, growing food prefers warmer climates, not cold. Climate always changes, changing the term does not change the fact that all this hysteria over global warming, or whatever you want to call it today is all hype designed to let people with power trips run your life.. that what you really want?

    Wait till energy costs so much because of all this foolishness that you won’t be able to keep warm or cool or turn on lights, because it will be cost prohibitive.

    1. It is hard to call a sun baked, sandy, windblown, barren desert pristine.

      Everything else is true.

      The money lenders will jack up the cost of living 4 to 10 times what it is now and they will be bring in draconian laws to get rid of the complainers.

      In 20 or 30 years you survivors will realize how stupid you were.

    2. Yeah, all those scientists that have been working on the problem have such low IQs. Where are all the smart scientists? Surely they can tell us that this past winter proves there’s no global warming. I mean, how could it be so cold if everything is getting warmer. If only I had some brains, maybe I’d understand.

    1. You are absolutely right, but the last remaining problem with nuclear isn’t technology its risk management. The public is right to worry about that.

      Nuclear power has the potential to be very safe from a technology standpoint, but so did New Orleans. In both New Orleans and Fukushima, engineers new of fixable problems that management gambled on leaving unfixed in order to save money in the short run.

      In both cases terrible decisions were actually “good” career decisions for the managers that came and went before disaster struck. Of course, burning coal is similar in terms of real costs not being accounted for. But the damage there is spread out.

      If government passed a bill extending environmental damage settlements to be able to personally back charge CEO’s at the time of damage, there could be a lot less political arguing about what was and wasn’t harming the environment. Energy company CEO’s have vast resources to settle those issues sensibly if there own wealth was linked to their own choices.

    1. You are right. It is sure to save a few bucks durring the summer or year round in the southern most states. The buyers in most of the Continent will never save enough to pay back the cost of the solar rooftop.

  3. While I am primarily a custom home builder in Carmel, Ca., I started doing Solar 2 years ago.

    Even on the foggy Central Coast, people can knock off 70-84% of their electric usage with Solar on their house.

    This gets you to the bottom tier, which is the ” cheap ” power.

    1. Solar does cut the cost of power as the tier system is now in place. However, the cost of the system actually would push my monthly bill to the top tier as I had to pay for the cost of the power created by the cells in added cost.
      I simply changed my lights to LED and purchased a new fridge to cut the cost. My electric is roughly thirty dollars a month. Geo thermal is a better choice as it will cool / heat year round from a small water pump that can be run with a small 1000 watt generator during emergencies-with the fridge loaded on it.

        1. I am at the bottom tier at 30.00 a month. The point was that solar is really not needed since the panels are quite expensive and you are still paying per month for the current coming out of the panels. I avoid such cost with energy effient lights. Which would be far better as a whole than solar. It is still very expensive.

  4. Another resource to exploit. Another fortune to be made by the producers (ignoring the tax breaks, subsidies and grants). The american dream come true… work hard + corporate welfare = success.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.