Apple to build new solar farm, and some greens hate it

“Apple is building massive, $850-million solar farm that the company says will power its California operations, including its new Cupertino campus, stores and a data center in Fremont,” Robert Ferris reports for CNBC.

“Tim Cook and company have long been customers of solar power—sunlight powers facilities in Texas, and elsewhere in California. Apple has received kudos from the likes of Greenpeace for previous efforts to go solar,” Ferris reports. “And yet, the announcement has left some green groups are seeing red, according to an article in Breaking Energy.”

“A lineup of significant environmental groups, including the Audubon Society, Defenders of Wildlife and the Sierra Club, say the land that solar power contractor First Solar has purchased for its California Flats solar farm is home to several species of endangered or threatened species of wildlife. Some activists would prefer solar companies would choose ‘”degraded’ sites for their projects, rather than an area one activist calls ‘beautiful, open, largely intact land.’ One of the species in question is the federally protected golden eagle,” Ferris reports. “The Monterey County Planning Commission already approved the project in January, so activists say their best hope may be to ‘minimize and mitigate the damage’ to the area.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Whatever, as long as The Jackling House is saved. Oops!

Related article:
Tim Cook: Apple to build $850 million solar farm; Apple Watch will surprise everyone – February 10, 2015

33 Comments

  1. i see both sides. there needs to be better balance. kudos’ for the pursuit of renewable energy sources and championing that. but et’s keep the overall health of the environment in mind as well. ok – i admit, i am partial to eagles – they are truly fascinating birds and that loss would be devastating.

    1. My solution for global warming:

      Drill, drill get oil and fossil prices down further.

      But centralized oil burning. Centrally burned oil is more efficient. And electric cars are much more efficient than portable oil burners.

      Put some of the savings of more efficient and cheaper fossil fuel into C02 carbon capture at all the centralized power generators, so fossil fuels become effectively 0 emission.

      Then of course, solar, wind, and any other green but less predictable energy should be used. But oil ensures there is always cheap predictable and transportable energy when we need it.

      It just seems implausible to me that the enormous reserves of fossil fuels that are actually growing as extraction technology improves will be left in the ground. So we should use falling energy prices to pay for carbon capture and fix emissions. Everyone wins, and a lot of the extreme-green left vs. head-in-the sand right argument go away.

      1. Regretfully, under that scenario, the Saudis would still be using oil profits to fund terrorism, and domestic oil companies would still be pumping fracking sludge into our aquifers.

    2. A pair of nesting Bald Eagles live across from my home. They are protected, not endangered any more. In fact, they are taking over my state, growing about 10 to 20% in population a year. There’s no risk of devastation for Golden Eagles. Given their habitat range, it’s likely that only one pair of Golden Eagles is even affected by this solar farm.

  2. Apple is NOT building a solar farm!!! Apple is buying 130 mW of the 150 mW the farm will product. First Solar is building and operating the facility, selling the remaining power to a California utility company.

    Nice reporting CNBC! /s

    1. Correct. Apple will be investing $850 million in the initiative.

      The applicant, California Flats Solar LLC, was at the time of application a subsidiary of Element Power, a Portland.-based company that develops large wind and solar projects.

      In 2013, Element Power sold its US and Mexico portfolio to First Solar, making California Flats Solar LLC a subsidiary of First Solar.

  3. The EIR was already accepted by the County. Now, unfortunately, if these orgs’ names and public comments weren’t added to any sort of Mitigated Negative Declaration, then sorry to say… tough luck. They should have spoken up during the lengthy, mandated-by-CA process. That’s what the EIR is for.

  4. So, solar, wind and hydro electric power are the answer to the CO2 problem, as long as you don’t chop up the birds and bats with the wind turbines, destroy the animal habitats and kill off the endangered animals with the solar panels and kill off the fish with the river dams and the water turbines.

    What’s a Greene gotta do?

      1. Alright, let’s hear it for Communist China then, a country that never met a female fetus it didn’t want to turn into solyent green….

        Hey, ‘Spy, it’s never too late to abort yourself, help stabilize the planet, become a martyr and hero for the cause!

    1. A lot of the wind turbine problems are simply betaware implementations anyway. There are quite a few wind turbine designs that do NOT chop up birds and bats and do NOT make disturbing low frequency (brown noise) vibrations. REPLACE the bad prototype designs with MODERN designs. (Search on the net for images of wind turbines for quite a few less guillotining designs).

      1. Wind power collected at the top of mountains, solar panels in the deserts, tidal/wave/wind power build onto the oil rigs that could also be used to collect geothermal energy (i don’t know whether anyone has a problem with gradually cooling down the Earth’s core? Someone might…) instead of oil and you could have them connected to the shore via super low resistance wires (if such things exist) with solar panels floating on them and helping feed them at sparse junctions?

        Of course there’re always biofuels – then you can actually grow things in a naturalistic way, helping serve an ecosystem and then chopping down parts of the fuel only as and when it ripens… Like what we try to do with trees, but maybe with some more efficient energy provider, like sugar or a plant that naturally produces Hydrogen gas?… 😛

        Give me more fun problems!! 😀

        1. “Super low resistance wires” would be those which are super-cooled, ideally to Absolute Zero. Electrons love that.

          I personally like growing plants, our carbon fixing fellow residents of Earth. They’re a great tool for pulling CO2 out of the air. But sadly, as we humans leap way beyond the carrying capacity of our one and only planet, we keep burning down the enormous fields, forests and jungles of CO2 fixing critters in order to make more space for ourselves and our far less CO2 fixing efficient farms. Worse yet, rain forest jungles only offer crop land for at most a few years, then turn into worthless desert land, unless allowed to reseed from adjacent rain forest land.

          IOW: People are a problem

          So far, no natural problems have been identified from cooling the Earth’s core via geothermal energy plants. The same goes for using ocean wave energy, one of Bill Gate’s stranger investments. Neither has been found to be particularly efficient or cost effective however. Therefore, they stagnate.

  5. The state of California needs to follow Apple’s lead and use solar (and wind) energy for specific (not general) purposes. What Apple is doing is excellent, because it supplies power for a limited purpose. A smart design would use excess energy to create and store hydrogen fuel (not sell it on the “grid”), which can be used at night and when solar capacity is limited due to weather.

    For California… Create facilities near the shore (or on off-shore platforms) that use available solar energy, along with wind and tidal energy, to desalinate seawater. The resulting fresh water is added to local water supplies as a supplement (not the primary source). Environmentalists will no doubt have issues.

    1. Offshore wind farms are a great idea IMO. Not only do they get a more consistent supply of wind in the first place, their bases also start acting as artificial reefs and improve fish stocks in the area.

      The downside of course is the expense of putting them up.

    2. A smart design for a stand-alone facility is not necessarily a smart design from a system-level, grid-tied standpoint.

      Solar farms produce peak power near the same point in the day of peak power demand from air conditioners in homes and businesses. The power demand is lower at night when solar power is dormant. This enables a more efficient restructuring of the power stations feeding the grid by reducing the peak power demand on gas/oil/coal fired sources.

      1. Pacific Gas & Electric was faced with the problem of what to do with excess generation from their Diablo Canyon nuclear facility, which most efficiently runs at 100% generating capacity at all times. When the power from Diablo Canyon was not needed PG&E used it to power turbines at its Helms pumped storage facility to pump water up hill into the reservoir, so that when more power was needed that water could then be released to power hydro generation at Helms. Too bad that such man made reservoirs are a dirty word these days. It’s the perfect answer to what to do with excess AC power generation.

        1. If you have excess capacity, then converting it into a stored form is certainly an option. In some cases it makes sense and in others it does not. My point was that solar photovoltaic systems can help trim off the peak demand periods during the day when the solar facilities also tend to have peak output. A mix of solar, wind, water, wave, nuclear, and fossil fuel energy sources tied to the grid can provide reliable power while also reducing fossil fuel consumption and the need to build additional oil, gas, or coal-fired power plants.

          1. AC power, unless converted to DC or some other form of energy, must be generated the instant it is used. This is called “load following”. When you flip on a 100w light bulb on, a generator somewhere starts generating another hundred watts of power instantaneously. In order to perform this role power plants must run at less than 100% of their capacity. This function is known as providing “spinning reserve”. The problem is that most state PUCs require AC power from renewables to be purchased regardless of need. What this means is that as the load varies the load following role must be assumed by traditional, fossil fueled power plants. These fossil fueled power plants were designed to run at 100% capacity all the time. They are about 30% efficient at best. At less than 100% capacity they are even less efficient. So every kWh of electricity generated by renewables at 15¢ to 30¢ per kWh bumps a kWh of fossil fuel generated electricity (at about 6¢ per kWh) of line and out of the production mix. Additionally, it costs money to provide spinning reserve, which is typically not recoverable under most rate structures. This can double a utilities generation costs for a given day.

  6. And some irresponsible, ignorant ‘greens’ mandated that environmentally inert incandescent lightbulbs be replace by mercury poisoning lightbulbs, which we know damned well are rarely recycled. That’s stupid ‘green’.

    In this case, it’s 6 of one, half dozen of the other. Take your pick. Superficially, this just sound like a whiny lack of perspective. (And yes, I like, support and work with REAL local greens on frequent occasion).

  7. I’m praising the use of solar (and wind) energy for specific (limited) purposes, NOT to feed the general “grid” using massive “farms” that take up too much space and resources. The MEGA approach does not ultimately “restructure” anything, because solar and wind power are not “on demand.” They will always be supplemental, because they are not reliable; the traditional power sources need to be ready and able to supply the full needs, or we have “planned” blackouts when solar and wind do not deliver.

    The better approach is to use solar and wind for specific purposes, to make those smaller-scale needs more self-sufficient, thereby permanently reducing demand on the general “grid.” THEN we can have some REAL “restructuring.”

  8. Some misguided people think that if they oppose something then they can call themselves “Environmentalist”. Sorry. You have to do something constructive, and maybe even put some of your own skin in the game. Then you can call yourself “environmentalist”.

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