Renewable Energy

Apple has a new solar farm, and greens hate it

Tim Cook: Partnering with First Solar on solar farm
Tim Cook: Partnering with First Solar on solar farm

Apple is investing in a 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, according to reports from Breaking Energy and the New York Times.

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.

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."

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One of the species in question is the federally protected golden eagle.

Apple will pay $848 million to secure 130 megawatts of solar power over the next 25 years, according to the announcement made Tuesday.

First Solar's website says the project is "strategically located to minimize environmental impacts," and an environmental impact report prepared by Monterey County government says "the project site does not consist of specifically sensitive or high quality native habitat." It also appears that the site has been used as grazing land for livestock.

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.

Click here to read the full story in Breaking Energy.