solar Stories November 9, 2017

Apple solar data center at 3.099¢/kWh helps NV Energy near lowest US PPA

From Electrek:

Apple signed a deal this week to power to its Sparks, Nevada data center with possibly the cheapest contracted starting price for solar power in the US. The deal was signed with NV Energy, owned by Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway.

The deal’s start price is 3.099¢/kWh with a 2% a year escalator making it very inexpensive energy.  The size of the solar project is 50MW.

solar Stories June 9, 2016

apple-campus-2

Update: John Weaver did a deeper dive on this over at Electrek

Apple has quietly created an energy subsidiary, ‘Apple Energy’ LLC, registered in Delaware but run from its Cupertino headquarters. The company was seemingly formed to allow it to sell excess electricity generated by its solar farms in Cupertino and Nevada, with plans to sell electricity across the whole of the US.

[Apple Energy LLC] is a Delaware limited liability company and is a 100% wholly owned subsidiary of Apple Inc. [Contact is] Apple Energy LLC, One Infinite Loop, Cupertino, CA 95014

Given Apple’s expertise and huge commitment to using renewable energy to power its operations, it is no surprise that it wants to ensure that its solar farms generate sufficient power to meet its needs. Because the sun only shines during the day obviously, Apple needs to shift its generation and its usage. Data centers need to go 24/7. Apple Stores are open in the evening. Apple has alternatives for this at its campus (see Fuel Cell generation below) but if it wants to operate 100% renewable, it has to “trade” overcapacity during the middle of the day for “net-metered” energy during the evening or cloudy days.

Apple-energy

Apple’s Cupertino Campus 2 Photovoltaics are rated at 14 megawatts alone.

But a set of Federal Energy Regulatory Commission filings suggests that Apple could have bigger ambitions in the power field …

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solar Stories June 1, 2016

Apple-store-onyx-solar

After our attempt at explaining the 500% markup on Apple’s new solar array yesterday, further information has now confirmed that Apple’s new stores – starting in the brand new San Francisco location – will be utilizing a new walkable solar glass floor technology for electricity generation. According to a document on Onyx Solar’s website, Apple “has decided to commit itself to OnyxSolar’s designer photovoltaic technology for its new stores. The first of these is located in the heart of San Francisco, the company’s home town.” expand full story

solar Stories October 10, 2015

SolarTab-iphone

If you’ve ever tried to charge your iPhones/iPads/etc. directly from a small solar panel you probably know it is pretty difficult. Even with direct sunlight, you aren’t likely to be able to charge the device reliably. Most USB-charged devices require a minimum of 5W (5Vx1A) of continuous power to even register a charge. Then a cloud comes or the sun moves and you aren’t charging anymore.

Adding a battery to the mix helps, especially if the battery is big and can charge the device on its own without any sun. But most of the solar/battery combos fall into 2 categories: Either messy because they are a bulky 2 step solution or the solar panel is too small to make a meaningful charge and you are mostly using it like a regular USB battery.

solartab

SolarTab is a breath of fresh air here. It is a relatively big 5.5W solar panel built on a thin 13,000mAh battery enclosure that fits in an included Moleskine-esque case. Size-wise, think the original iPad with a nice leather case and a huge solar panel instead of a screen…

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solar Stories September 22, 2015

9to5Toys Last Call: Logitech Wireless Solar Keyboard $40, Brother Printer w/ AirPrint $48, Speck iPhone 6/6s case $14, more

Keep up with the best gear and deals on the web by signing up for the 9to5Toys Newsletter. Also, be sure to check us out on: TwitterRSS FeedFacebookGoogle+ and Safari push notifications.

Today’s can’t miss deals:

Last Call Updates:

The best USB car charger (Aukey 4 port/48W) is just $7 Prime shipped, Lumsing 6000mAh Power bank: $10

Logitech mice, keyboards, speakers up to 50% off: Wireless Solar Keyboard for Mac $40, Bluetooth mouse $22, more

Brother AirPrint All-in-One InkJet Color Printer: $48 shipped (Reg. $80+)

Wrap your new iPhone 6s with Speck’s CandyShell Grip case for $14 shipped (Reg. $25+), more

Amazon teases one day sale that’ll discount Prime memberships down to just $67

Apple iPad Air 2 Wi-Fi up to $150 off (all colors): 16GB $349, 64GB $449, 128GB $549 (Reg. up to $699)

Giveaway: This is Ground’s Mod Laptop 2 is a road warrior’s dream bag, up to $499 value

More new gear from today:

Grand Theft Auto iOS titles $3 ea: Chinatown Wars, Vice City and GTA III (Reg. $5 ea.)

More deals still alive:

LG 49-inch 60Hz Smart 4K UHDTV: $550 shipped (Reg. $800+)

The Mega Mac 2015 Bundle: 15 solid Apps including MacBooster 2, Disk Drill Pro & More $25 (Orig. $564)

MacUpdate Bundle: 10 apps including Toast 14, DevonThink, ExpanDrive, Boom, iMazing and more for $50

New products & more:

Infento’s Constructible Rides are a K’NEX-like bicycle system that grows with your kid

The Makerarm 3D prints, laser engraves, and even assembles your electronics

solar Stories July 16, 2015

Solar cell touch surface patent

Apple tends to patent every one of its inventions that could possibly be used in a future product, so it can be difficult to read the tea leaves on which ones will eventually translate to product features. A new patent from Apple highlighted by PatentlyApple today, though, describes a technology that would be a very welcome remedy to battery life issues. The patent covers applying solar cells to a touch display surface like a trackpad or iPhone to store power for the device: expand full story

solar Stories May 10, 2015

china-solar

Apple today has announced a variety of new environmental initiatives for its China operations. Through a press release, the company announced a new multi-year partnership with World Wildlife Fund to increase responsibly managed forests throughout China. Apple also announced that it intends to expand its renewable energy projects to manufacturing facilities in China.

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solar Stories April 16, 2015

Apple Solar Center

After announcing a new partnership earlier today with The Conservation Fund to protect 36,000 acres of forest, news of another environmental effort by the company comes as SunPower announces plans to build a new solar power project in China.

SAN JOSE, Calif., April 16, 2015– Continuing its growth in the world’s largest solar photovoltaic market, SunPower Corporation today announced that it plans to partner with Apple to build two solar power projects totaling 40 megawatts (MW) in ABA Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefectures, Sichuan Province of the Peoples Republic of China (PRC). When complete, the two projects will be co-owned by Sichuan Shengtian New Energy Development Co., Ltd., SunPower’s project development joint venture, and Apple. 

The two new solar sites, Apple’s first in the region, are already under construction and expected to be complete by the end of the year. Apple previously worked with SunPower on its solar projects in the US, including locations in California, Nevada, and North Carolina. expand full story

solar Stories February 10, 2015

apple-Solar-reno

During Tim Cook’s talk at the Goldman Sachs Tech Conference 2015 today, the Apple CEO announced a new initiative that will see the company build a solar farm in Monterey County, California that Cook called Apple’s “biggest, boldest and most ambitious” energy project yet. expand full story

solar Stories December 5, 2014

9to5Toys Last Call: Sony NEX-5TL camera $300, PNY 256GB USB 3.0 flash drive $70, JAMBOX $75, more

Keep up with the best gear and deals on the web by signing up for the brand new 9to5Toys Newsletter. Also, be sure to check us out on: TwitterRSS FeedFacebookGoogle+ and Safari push notifications.

Today’s can’t miss deals:

Amazon Gold Box: Sony NEX-5TL w/ 16-50mm Power Zoom Lens: $300 shipped (50% off), Accessories/bundle sale, more

PNY Turbo 256GB USB 3.0 Flash Drive: $70 shipped (50% off) 128GB: $35, 64GB: $20

Jawbone Jambox in festive Red: $75 shipped ($125 off) Tax in NY

Tommy Hilfiger’s new jacket can charge two iPhones at once, but you probably can’t pull its look off

iTunes Free App of the Week: God of Light ($1.99 value)

More new deals:

More deals still alive:

New products/ongoing promos:

solar Stories February 25, 2014

Crowdsource update: SunSprite, the solar-powered wearable aimed at geeks

With all the focus on skin cancer caused by too much exposure to sunlight, you might expect a UV-measurement gadget to be designed to warn you when you’ve spent too long in the sun. But no, the SunSprite has the opposite goal: it’s aimed at those who spend all their time indoors, and don’t get enough time in the sun. Or, to put it more concisely, geeks.

Sunlight plays a role in both mood and sleep patterns. The SunSprite measures exposure to both visible and UV light, and uses LEDs to indicate when you’ve met your daily goal of having spent enough time outside. It also communicates with a companion iPhone app. The retail price is a rather hefty $149, but early bird Indiegogo backers can get one for $89.

A neat thing about it is the same sunlight it measures also powers the device. The low energy requirements of the SunSprite mean that just a few minutes of sunlight provide enough energy to power the gadget for a week.

With some rumors suggesting that the iWatch may incorporate solar panels, perhaps this is one more health-based sensor Apple could include?

There’s a longer video that goes into more detail below.

solar Stories November 18, 2013

Report profiles Apple’s pioneering clean energy projects in North Carolina [photos]

GigaOM today published a lengthy piece on the state of the solar and fuel cell farm installations that Apple has been building in North Carolina in recent years.

After a visit to the 100-acre, 20 megawatt (MW) solar farm, 10MW fuel cell farm, and another 20 MW solar panel farm situated close to Apple’s North Carolina iCloud data center, the report gives a pretty in-depth look into Apple’s operations, from how its fuel cells work right down to the sheep that eat the grass on its solar farm:

The solar farm across from the data center has over 50,000 panels on 100 acres, and it took about a year to build the entire thing….Each solar panel on Apple’s farms has a microcontroller on its back, and the panels are attached to long, large trackers (the steel poles in the picture). During the day, the computers automatically and gradually tilt the solar panels so that the face of the panels follow the sun throughout the day. The above picture was taken in the late morning, so by the end of the day, the panels will have completely rotated to face where I was standing. The trackers used are single-axis trackers, which basically means they are less complex and less expensive than more precise dual-axis trackers.

You can see in the above picture that the grass is neatly maintained. Apple manages the grass under the panels in a variety of ways, but one of those is a little more unusual. Apple works with a company that ropes in sheep that eat the grass on a portion of the solar farm; when the sheep finish grazing on one spot, they’re moved to the next.

The site decided to take a look into Apple’s decision to take renewable energy into its own hands just as North Carolina utility Duke Energy is requesting that the state allow it to sell clean energy to large corporate customers. Google is one of the large companies interested in purchasing clean energy from the utility, but the hundreds of millions Apple has invested into its own renewable energy efforts have so far made it self-sufficient. The report notes Apple’s two solar farms, along with its fuel cell farm, are producing more than it needs to power its data center by around 10MW:

Apple’s second 20 MW solar panel farm, which is about 15 miles away from the data center near the town of Conover, North Carolina, is also up and running. All told, the three facilities are creating 50 MW of power, which is about 10 MW more than what Apple’s data center uses. Because of state laws, the energy is being pumped into the power grid, and Apple then uses the energy it needs from the grid. But this setup also means Apple doesn’t need large batteries, or other forms of energy storage, to keep the power going when the sun goes down and its solar panels stop producing electricity.

The full feature on GigaOM is worth checking out if you’re interested in Apple’s renewable energy projects.

solar Stories November 4, 2013

Screen Shot 2013-11-04 at 5.07.52 PM

The State of Arizona today announced that Apple is planning to build a new manufacturing facility in the city of Mesa, Arizona. The facility will create 700 jobs for manufacturing, and an additional 1,300 jobs for the construction and management of the new facility, In total, Apple will be bringing at least 2,000 new jobs to the United States thanks to this new facility.

In addition to the manufacturing facility, Apple will be constructing a new solar power grid in the city to power the manufacturing operations, according to Arizona’s announcement:

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solar Stories September 13, 2013

Battery life phil schiller

Update: Apple has removed the job listing from its website, but we grabbed a screenshot below.

Apple appears to be investigating the use of thin film solar technology for future mobile products with a new job listing on the company’s website looking to hire an engineer with experience in the solar industry. The thin films engineer would join Apple’s Mobile Devices group and “assist in the development and refinement of thin films technologies applicable to electronic systems.” The job listing adds some proof to rumors in recent years that Apple was evaluating the use of solar panels for future products.

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solar Stories July 1, 2013

apple-Solar-reno

According to a new report from GigaOM, Apple is planning to build a new solar panel farm in Reno, Nevada in conjunction with NV Energy. Reno is also where Apple’s latest data center is located. The company already has two similar-sized solar farms in North Carolina to power its data center there, but this is the company’s first in Nevada.

The solar farm, dubbed  “Ft. Churchill Solar Array,” will be able to proved between 18 to 20 MW in power, which is about the same as its plants in North Carolina, which both put out 20 MW in size. With this solar farm, however, Apple will be utilizing a new technology that includes both solar panels and mirrors that focus the sun’s rays up to seven times onto the panels.  expand full story

solar Stories February 12, 2013

Apple-iWatch-Concept-01

Since the old iWatch rumor reared its head again in December, there have been a few more reliable sources adding weight to the idea that we could see a smart watch from Apple this year. Over the weekend, The New York Times, which said essentially the same thing in 2011, followed up the rumors with a report that Apple is working on a curved glass watch prototype running iOS. The Wall Street Journal quickly followed with more information, claiming Apple and partner Foxconn are now testing wearable, watch-like devices.

While many have speculated what Apple might include in an iWatch, such as Apple employee #66 and founder of Apple’s Human Interface Group Bruce Tognazzini, all we get from reports is “curved glass” and “iOS”. Apple has clearly been testing wearable prototypes with several patents dating as far back as 2009, describing potential integration with wristwatches and iOS devices. By taking a look at the technology for watches that Apple is already experimenting with through the many publicly available patents, we put together a list of some of the features the company could very well include in an Apple-branded smart watch. expand full story

solar Stories September 19, 2011

Let’s not pretend that Apple isn’t thinking about Solar charging its iOS devices.  It even registered iPodsolar.com in 2007.  Until the solar iPod is released, however, there are other ways to charge your iOS device from the sun.

Etón today announced the availability of their Mobius NSP300B Rechargeable Battery Case for iPhone 4, which was originally announced this year at CES.

The admittedly stylish (for having a solar panel strapped to it, that is) case packs in an 1800 mAh rechargeable lithium ion battery, high-efficiency monocrystal solar panel, and micro USB to charge the battery on cloudy days and nights. Other features include LED charge indicator lights and a stand by switch to turn off direct power transfer. In other words, hitting the stand by switch will let you to collect power without using it, allowing you to control when the case is actually powering your iPhone.

As you can see from the chart below, Etón estimates approximately 1 hour of solar charge will provide you with up to an additional 25 minutes talk time, 20 minutes of data usage (3G), 35 minutes of video playback, or 145 minutes of audio playback. In comparison, a fully charged case will provide you with an additional 5 hours talk time, 8 hours data usage and video playback, and 32 hours audio playback.

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solar Stories August 23, 2011

Apple has won 16 new patents published by the the US Patent and Trademark Office today (via PatentlyApple) that cover everything from possible methods of charging future Apple products via solar power, to key multi-touch technology and iOS camera related patents. Certainly more fuel for the ongoing patent wars between Apple and the rest of the smartphone industry.

We already know Apple is experimenting with solar power from past patents, even going as far as considering which company would produce panels for future products. We also heard reports in March of a superthin solar panel layer from French company Wysips that could be rolling out to handset manufactures within a year. Today one of the 16 newly granted patents gets us a step closer by detailing “methods and apparatuses for operating devices with solar power”.

PatentlyApple explains:

“a solar power tracking apparatus includes, but is not limited to, a voltage converter and a controller coupled to the voltage converter. The voltage converter includes an input capable of being coupled to a solar power source and an output capable of being coupled to an electronic load, such as, for example, a portable electronic device. The voltage converter is configured to monitor or detect an amount of power drawn by the electronic load at the output of the voltage converter. In response to the monitored power drawn, the controller is configured to control the voltage converter to reduce amount of power to be drawn subsequently if the monitored amount of power exceeds a predetermined threshold. As a result, the output voltage from the solar power source is maintained within a predetermined range.”

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solar Stories August 12, 2011

A few more interesting Apple Inc-filed patents have surfaced today (via Patently Apple) as part of the many applications published by the US Patent & Trademark Office recently. Perhaps the most notable include a design for an iPhone antenna clip, new finger reducing oil resistant coating, and a patent describing using solar energy as an alternate power source in portable devices (something we know Apple has been researching from patents and other sources in the past).

One of the more interesting patents with technology that could (and probably should) make its way to iOS devices in the near future is a the method of reducing “finger oils on touch surfaces”. The patent describes Apple’s method of “Direct Liquid Vaporization for Oleophobic Coatings”. Fingerprints have seem to become less of an issue to iPhone users over the years, but are definitely still a major annoyance to users in less than desirable lighting conditions.

From the report:

Apple states that to prevent the deposition of oils on an electronic device surface, an oleophobic ingredient could be bonded to the electronic device surface. The oleophobic ingredient could be provided as part of a raw liquid material in one or more concentrations. To avoid adverse reactions due to exposure to air, heat, or humidity, the raw liquid material can be placed in a bottle purged with an inert gas during the manufacturing process.

The image below shows what appears to be an antenna attached to a small device’s housing via an “attachment member”. Patently Apple reports Apple states the antenna invention could be used in “their iPod family (MP3 players), a radio, an audio/video recorder, a mobile telephone, personal digital assistant, tablet computing device, or other similar device”. They also speculate from the “exploded view above that it might even be an “iPhone-nano-like device”. expand full story

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