Tesla and Apple facilitate innovative solar projects

Apple and Tesla, two companies in the vanguard of the renewables revolution, have unveiled their links to new solar projects aimed at bringing clean energy that maximises land use in areas of Japan and the Hawaiian island of Kauai.

Disruptive motor-cum-energy company Tesla has issued the sale of 272 Tesla Powerpacks to provide electricity after dark to energy firm Kauai Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC). The firm will use the Powerpacks to store solar energy generated in the day from the island’s 13MW solar farm, to generate electricity during the night.

Tesla and KIUC have signed a 20-year deal that reduces the cost per kilowatt hour of the farm from 15.5 cents to 13.9 cents. This cost will be fixed for the duration of the contract and it is expected to save KIUC around 1.6m gallons of diesel fuel, which was used to generate power after dark, each year.

According to KIUC, the purchase of the Powerpacks makes the island the biggest solar storage facility in the world. In total, almost 55,000 solar panels are spread across 50 acres of land to provide 52MWh of energy storage capabilities.

Tesla’s emergence into renewable energy has been enabled through the acquisition of SolarCity, which commenced last July. Tesla is also using SolarCity expertise and its own Powerpacks to power almost the entire American Samoan island Ta’u with solar energy.

Floating solar

The Tesla news emerged on the same day (8 March) that tech giant Apple revealed that its component supplier Ibiden became the first company based in Japan to pledge to powering all of its Apple manufacturing facilities with 100% renewable energy.

The pledge will see Ibiden, which produces integrated circuitry and chip packages found in Apple devices, invest in more than 20 renewable energy projects, including one of the largest floating solar systems in Japan.

The “state-of-the-art” floating system is being constructed on a converted lumber yard to maximise land use in an otherwise mountainous terrain. In total, these projects will produce more than 12MW of solar power, which is more than Ibiden currently needs to manufacture Apple products. The rest could be used to support national efforts to reduce carbon emissions.

Apple has moved to champion renewable energy through various on-site and purchasing agreements. By the end of 2018, Apple and its supplier will generate more than 2.5bn kwh annually, which Apple equates to removing more than 400,000 cars from the roads.

Currently, Apple is powering 100% of its operations with renewable energy across 23 countries and more than 93% of its worldwide operations are also powered by renewables.

Matt Mace

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie