Apple is building a mega battery for Tesla-style solar power storage

Chris Davies - Mar 31, 2021, 2:18pm CDT
Apple is building a mega battery for Tesla-style solar power storage

Apple has revealed plans to build a huge energy storage battery in California, near to the vast solar farm which it counts on to provide renewable power for its operations. The strategy takes a leaf out of Tesla’s book, among others, and will store excess energy generated by the 130 megawatt solar panel installation for use later on.

Apple inked a deal with the solar farm, California Flats, back in 2015, for 25 years of electricity supply. The installation – which covers 2,900 acres in total – also supplies local utility Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) with up to 150 megawatts of power.

In all, it’s sufficient to provide Apple with all of the energy it needs for its operations in California. However, as with any solar installation, the panels are limited in their output by the amount of sun on offer. Now, Apple plans to construct what it says will be one of the largest battery projects in the country to soak up that power and then release it for use overnight or during periods of peak demand.

The battery system will be more than just a few Tesla Powerwall units daisy-chained together. In total, Apple plans to have storage for 240 megawatt-hours of energy: enough, the company says, to power over 7,000 homes for a whole day.

“Wind and solar power provide the most cost-effective new source of electricity to many parts of the world, but the intermittent nature of these technologies has presented an obstacle to widespread adoption,” Apple said today of the system. “One solution to intermittency is energy storage, which can retain generated energy until it is needed. Apple is investing in utility-scale storage in California and research into new energy storage technologies, even as it builds upon distributed storage capabilities in Santa Clara Valley and through Apple Park’s microgrid.”

The approach is one which is gaining traction around the US, particularly as part of disaster preparedness. The unexpected ice storms and cold weather in Texas earlier this year highlighted just how fragile traditional power grids can be, not to mention how reliant we are on mains power and its generation.

Apple’s battery won’t be the only sizable storage facility, therefore. Tesla is readying a huge mega-battery in Texas, it was revealed in early March 2021, with more than 100 megawatts of storage on-site. That’ll be sufficient, it was claimed, to meet the demands of around 20,000 average homes on a summer day.

Replacing and renewing the electric grid was a high-profile part of President Biden’s $2 trillion Infrastructure Plan, revealed today. In it, the President called for $100 billion to be spent on more resilient high-voltage power lines, among other things.

“As the recent Texas power outages demonstrated, our aging electric grid needs urgent modernization,” the White House said in a statement on the plan. “A Department of Energy study found that power outages cost the U.S. economy up to $70 billion annually. The President’s plan will create a more resilient grid, lower energy bills for middle class Americans, improve air quality and public health outcomes, and create good jobs, with a choice to join a union, on the path to achieving 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2035.”


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