Apple’s massive California solar farm will store power in Tesla’s ‘megapack’ batteries

Apple announced Wednesday that it’s building a massive battery storage project at a Northern California solar farm it launched in 2015. But what the company didn’t share is that the batteries will come from Tesla, The Verge reports.

Apple’s new California Flats solar farm helps power its corporate headquarters, along with solar power installed on the roof of Apple Park.
Apple’s new California Flats solar farm helps power its corporate headquarters, along with solar power installed on the roof of Apple Park.

Sean O’Kane for The Verge:

The newly-announced setup, which will store up to 240 megawatt-hours of energy, was approved by the Monterey County Board of Supervisors in 2020, according to documents submitted last year. It will consist of 85 Tesla lithium-ion “megapacks” and be used to help power the company’s corporate headquarters in Cupertino. Monterey County’s planning chief confirmed that Apple will use the Tesla batteries in an email to The Verge

The Tesla batteries will make it possible for Apple to store energy generated by its 130-megawatt solar array at the farm, which is called California Flats.

Apple and Tesla don’t have much overlapping history, though each company is notorious for poaching talent from the other. Tesla CEO Elon Musk also said in December that he tried to pitch the idea of Apple buying his company back in 2018, but that Apple CEO Tim Cook “refused” to take the meeting.

MacDailyNews Note: More info about the California Flats energy storage project here.

36 Comments

  1. Now that the Nation of Islam has attacked the Capitol and killed a police officer I expect Tim Cook and Apple to ban all things Muslim immediately.

    Show us you’re not a hypocrite Tim.

    1. Hey MDN! This is about as off-topic as it gets, even if it didn’t confuse the Nation of Islam with orthodox Muslims, their beliefs, and practices.

        1. Two wrongs don’t make a right. If this guy was a Baptist, would you be calling for the Government to ban all things Baptist? No, you would see that—correctly—as a violation of both the Religious Test prohibition in the main body of the Constitution and of the Free Exercise and Establishment Clauses of the First Amendment. The Constitution protects both orthodox Muslims and the Nation of Islam just like it protects Baptists.

          This whole subthread has absolutely nothing to do with Apple, much less the article posted above. It is an inflamitory diversion by repulsive trolls.

          1. He’s not suggesting that they be banned. He’s demanding that Cook be consistent. Cook is all too inclined to ban or help ban products that are not aligned with his worldview.

          2. “This whole subthread has absolutely nothing to do with Apple, much less the article posted above. It is an inflamitory diversion by repulsive trolls.”

            …and you proceed to provide a retort to the article, furthering the “nothing to do with Apple” part of your statement.

            You again, deem yourself in a special place–appointed really–to correct the minions, while doing the same yourself.

            It reminds me of the numerous examples of the D pols that warned the citizenry to not travel, not to go into the public and to absolutely wear a mask in such an event…only to find them doing exactly what they warned against.

            You are very special, I know.

  2. We need more projects exploring different approaches to storing power from cheap clean intermittent sources. It isn’t as big a problem in California, where hydropower can be used to match electrical network production to consumption (the dam gates close when the wind is blowing and the sun is shining and open when they aren’t). In places like Texas, we have very little regular hydropower (in some areas, even providing a reliable source of water for power plant cooling is a problem). Most of the state is too flat for pumped-hydro storage to work. So the energy industry needs to be exploring options like this to find cost-effective ways to even out production without having to rely on fossil-fuel production to fill the gaps.

    1. “We need more projects exploring different approaches to storing power from cheap clean intermittent sources”

      No. Battery storage is not a viable solution. The reason being is that the amount of resources needed for everybody to have battery backup are astronomically high. This is the view of James Hansen, formerly of NASA.

      And there is no reason to switch to shitty intermittent wind and solar, the US has more oil, nat gas, and coal combined than any other nation in the world. And the claim that there is a human induced catastrophic climate emergency causing bad weather events such as floods and more hurricanes is BS (unless you’re a policy maker that needs a ‘scientific’ reason to impose left-wing policies).

    2. There is significant loss in transforming A/C-D/C power.

      Should it be explored? Absolutely.
      Depended on? Reality spoke to Texas recently.
      Take note of that.

      1. You want to speak about Texas? I live near Georgetown (pop. 90,262). The city electric utility buys most of its power under a fixed-price contract with wind and solar generation companies. They put watts into the state grid as they generate it and the city pulls it out as they consume it, up to an amount equal to the city’s normal maximum consumption. During the peak of the recent crisis, from Feb. 16-19, the contractors provided 100% of their contract obligation–13,000 Megawatt/hours at $29.79 each, for a total of $270,000.

        However, the maximum city consumption, normally 91 Mw, jumped to 134 due to the unprecedented cold, exceeding the supply due under the contract. The city needed to buy an additional 3000 Mw/hrs on the state energy market–as the state has been encouraging. Because Texas fossil-fuel and nuclear generation had not been properly winterized, power was scarce and prices were high. So the city paid $9000/Mw/hr ($27 million), plus $17.8 million in ancillary fees for tapping reserve or on-demand power supplies.

        To recap, the City of Georgetown got 81% of its electricity during those 70 hours from renewable sources for $270 thousand and 19% from non-renewables for $45 million. They chose to issue $48 million in bonds rather than add an extra $1800 to the average February utility bill. Georgetown got off cheap–many other utilities bought 100% of their requirements at the market price.

        1. And the money spent plus energy wasted on the renewables would’ve created MUCH more power had it been spent upgrading old or building new natural gas plants.

          So until reality is dealt with while other sources evolve you can bet there will always be the chance of 02/21 repeating itself.

          You can skew the argument any way you like.
          It doesn’t change the reality.

          1. Where is the incentive to upgrade the gas-fired plants and the infrastructure to support them? The generation companies made a killing and their stock prices soared during February. So would any company that could produce a product for less than $20 and sell it for $9000.

            Those upgrades will not happen unless the government requires it. If Texas is going to mandate the expenditure of billions of dollars, they should steer it to building facilities that will not consume irreplacable resources on an ongoing basis. The Texas petrochemical industry has a better use for those resources than simply burning them until they are gone.

            1. The outages were caused by greedy electric producers and gas suppliers who refused to winterize their systems after the 2011 freeze showed it was necessary, and by cowardly government officials who refused to require it. The same greedy and cowardly individuals are now trying to evade the blame by pointing fingers at everyone but themselves.

            2. @TT Yeah, “people like you,” is not triggering at all, just one word more than “you people…” Always a rhetorical disaster (even when the phrase-slinger doesn’t care).

              @TexasUser. Hang in there, pardner. Fight the good fight. Kind of a shame there is no way to IM the people whose words we appreciate here. As another with Texas roots, I’d at least send a “Howdy” your way. 🤠

            3. You in no way implied a Perpetual Motion machine, but TT also completely ignored lifting the weight with energy that would have otherwise been unutilized.

              Oil people are truly stuck.

            4. Morons like TXLuser are the reason Texas energt failed. Progressive policies means regressive energy. Dear readers, don’t be a Luser, and specifically, don’t be a TXLuser. Or any AppleCynicLuser – another fine example of whacktoidism at its finest.

    3. Long distance power transfer is a good option. The wind is always blowing somewhere – it can’t stop for the whole US all at once. And places with good storage options can help out places that don’t have them.

      Texas power storage: Use an abandoned oil well. Generate power by dropping a tethered weight down the well, and having the cable pull a generator. Store power by pulling the weight back up. (Might work better with a wider hole though.).

      Other ways: Solar thermal plants use mirrors to boil water. Store the steam, and you can turn a turbine at night. An offshore windmill can store energy by pumping air into an underwater tank.

      America was built by explorers, not by people who deny the problem and say nothing can be done.

            1. So, explain this in your own words (not a link).
              Did you subtract the force required to LIFT the weight?
              No, I’m sure you just Googled something to make your argument.

              So let’s try to put this into practical realty.
              Mineshaft? What kind?
              Is it lined?How much force will be required to keep it pumped out?
              There’s liquids and gas down there you know.

              Let me give you my two-Pesos worth (since we both live in a future state of Mexico).

              You are using a mechanical equation expanded to depths and weight to create more energy than used to lift the weight. OK fine. Put it into reality.

              What material is the cable used to hold the weight for repeated drops?
              I’m sure you would want to brake it rather break it, so you have to apply force to the ‘transaxle’ (if you please). Like a Prius’ brake system maybe? Well, you’ll actually produce less energy when the turbines go slower, so do you transfer this energy to other mechanical potential? Springs, something elastic? the lifting of ANOTHER weight to be dropped next?

              Let’s suppose another scenario-
              The force created by the drop because of gravity and inertia is what created more energy than required to lift the weight, so removing any resistance to that fall would enhance this.

              Obviously you have the turbine to turn, but you also have air to displace.
              You also need braking force. So let’s use them.
              If the shaft were lined to a tolerance which allows a small passage of air as a coolant, then the remaining air could be pushed into adjoining shafts to create pressure.

              Below the opening for the displaced air shaft would be the brake, which is water that would be pumped by the impact into another shaft under extreme pressure. This pressure could become even greater if the air shaft vents are high enough above the water line for the remaining air to be compressed as the weight hits the waters.

              In these steps you have harnessed the power of the displaced air, cooled the cylinder, compressed the remaining air to force the water into a “ballast” or simply to a height to use ITS gravitational force on return to help lift the weight back up to a considerable height.

              So, feel free to Google away and see if this is possible.
              I would be very surprised if you find a hit on this but then again others have probably tried to find a way to actually make this work.

              Good luck.

            2. TowerTone,

              I am shocked that I have to explain this. Obviously, this is not a perpetual motion machine that generates more energy than it consumes. It is a storage device like a battery that allows shifting electrical energy from times when there is a surplus on the network to times when there is a shortfall.

              Lifting the weight produces the gravitational potential energy that you are storing. Lifting 100 metric tons a kilometer requires roughly 2.7 Megawatt/hours of energy from the electrical network to run the electric motors that lift the weight. You do that when there is a surplus of renewable energy on the network and electricity is cheap, for example on a sunny windy day.

              Then, when there is a shortfall of energy and electricity is expensive, you let the weight drop back down the shaft to convert the potential energy into kinetic energy that generators turn into electricity that goes back into the network. If the process were 100% efficient (which is isn’t, of course), that would generate 2.7 Mw/hrs.

              There are losses, of course. You mentioned some of them, including the need to keep the mineshaft pumped, air resistance, and heat loss in both the motors and the generators. However, the efficiency would probably not be much less than using Tesla batteries. If the efficiency is high enough, you can finance the storage device through the difference between the low-priced electricity bought for use in lifting and the high-priced electricity sold after generation. You probably could not pay to drill the shaft, but there are a lot of existing mineshafts in America. Even a slanting shaft could be used for weights on tracked carriages.

              I was not advocating this as an ideal solution, or even as a fiscally viable one at current energy prices. I was just pointing out that Tau Myx’s notion of weights in oil well shafts was not the “April Fool’s joke” that you and Kramer apparently thought it was.

            3. TXLuser is like a hammer – definitely not the sharpest tool in the shed. Just a guy who sees a nail in every problem. Sadly he gets nailed all the time.

  3. Solar + PowerWalls is game-changing.

    Here in California, where there is more than enough sun to power your home twice over, it’s completely (and literally) empowering to be mostly off the grid with no compromises. Tesla’s Powerwalls are part of that equation for our family and they power the home seamlessly. It’s impossible to tell if we’re running off batteries, panels, the grid, or some combination of the 3.

    It’s seriously cool. 😎

    If it weren’t for the few rainy/cloudy days, and the scam that is Southern California Edison (who will never trade fairly kWh for kWh), we’d be completely off the grid. As it stands, we probably produce about 140-150% of our energy needs, the biggest being air-conditioning in summer. SCE has fees built in to where you still have to pay anywhere from $5-$25/month, but we’re otherwise carbon negative (at least on the simple energy equation).

    What Apple is doing here is what every town and municipality should at least consider: how to bank and store electricity. The reasons for doing so are far beyond going green.

    There are many truly innovative, fascinating ways that we’ll likely be using more commonly in the next decade or three (Pumped hydroelectric, Compressed air, Flywheels, and Thermal Energy storage). But for most end users today, batteries are probably the easiest, least expensive solution.

    The simple Tesla app will change the way you think about electricity the parts of your home that use it.

    If our grids had the ability to store power, so many more choices would be available to the city as well as consumers. And you don’t have to wait for your town or city to do so, you can do it yourself. No more blackouts and power outages for us. California fires cannot touch us in the same way they could without storage here at home. Less exposure to severe weather events like what happened in Texas recently. Grids can and will be hacked by adversaries domestic and international.

    There are more great reasons than I have time to list, to find ways to generate and store your own power at home, as well as in your county.

    Yeah, it’s empowering. 😎

    ~

    [is it possible to upload an image with a post? I was trying to do that with a Tesla PowerWall App screenshot, but couldn’t figure it out before I had to abandon the quest.]

  4. Storing the excess energy generated (for later use) is a necessary part of relying on inconsistent energy sources like solar and wind. Another way is to create and store hydrogen fuel (from water) using excess energy and run fuel cells for power when needed. But a battery is probably safer and more efficient, if large-enough battery storage is possible.

    Apple needs to link this technology with powering the future car. Charging electrics cars is the top limitation of adopting fully electric vehicles. They don’t use fossil fuels, but the power must come from somewhere, and that power must be storable to always meet rising demand from customers charging more and more electric cars. It would be irresponsible for Apple to release car into a world that’s not ready to meet its collective energy requirement.

    And the method used to “top-off” car must be reimagined by Apple, to make it convenient. Doesn’t Apple want to eliminate cables and cords with iPhone and iPad? Do you think Apple will design car to require customers constantly connecting a “wire” to recharge and then wait? No, inconvenience is the other aspect that limits adoption of fully electric vehicles. Apple will figure it out and everyone else will copy.

  5. I am almost certain that Apple is doing this for pure (and sure) profit. I know at least one other one of theirs somewhere in Africa.
    Also, I am certain that Apple is going to import all solar panels from China as they are currently the world largest supplier of solar panel. They often JV with local partners.
    Thought utility company (PGE?) is mandated to buy power from renewable sources at a fixed price.

  6. The recently declared arrangement, which will accumulate to 240 megawatt-long periods of energy, was affirmed by the Monterey County Board of Supervisors in 2020, as per records submitted a year ago. It will comprise of 85 Tesla lithium-particle “megapacks” and be utilized to help power the organization’s corporate central command in Cupertino. Monterey County’s arranging boss affirmed that Apple will utilize the Tesla batteries in an email to The Verge. Apple declined to remark. Tesla didn’t react to a solicitation for input. Content Writing Services

  7. The recently declared arrangement, which will accumulate to 240 megawatt-long periods of energy, was affirmed by the Monterey County Board of Supervisors in 2020, as per records submitted a year ago. It will comprise of 85 Tesla lithium-particle “megapacks” and be utilized to help power the organization’s corporate central command in Cupertino. Monterey County’s arranging boss affirmed that Apple will utilize the Tesla batteries in an email to The Verge. Apple declined to remark. Tesla didn’t react to a solicitation for input. Content Writing Services

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