Mixed news on solar generation of electricity
On the one hand, buyers of homes are steering clear of homes with leased solar PV panels on the roof, because of uncertainty and complications surrounding the owners of the panels - a private company, and the guarantors of the tariffs - government. It's hardly news that a week is a long time in politics, so a twenty five year guarantee of feed in tariffs seems frail, to say the least. In the UK, government debt has previously seen devaluation of the pound, which effectively renders all government promises to pensioners, home-owners with feed in tariffs, etc unreliable.
On the other hand, corporations and individuals with enough capital are making great strides in committing to greater use of renewable, clean energy.
Apple expands renewable energy use
Internet corporation Apple is investing $55 million in the development of a solar energy system in North Carolina. The solar farm is expected to span 100 acres of land and produce electrical power that Apple will use to power one of its largest data centres, which is located in the same state. Apple has been growing more aggressive with its investments in renewable energy in recent years, hoping to become more environmentally friendly and sustainable in the future.
New solar farm to produce 17.5 megawatts of electrical power
The new solar energy system is set to be built near the city of Claremont, North Carolina. Apple expects that the construction of this solar farm with create 75 jobs and the company is working to fill these positions with local workers. Once the energy system is completed, it will have a maximum capacity of 17.5 megawatts. Much of this electricity is expected to go to Apple, though a portion of this power may be used by Claremont for various purposes.
North Carolina sets the pace for renewable solar electricity
North Carolina law has encouraged investment in solar power projects, allowing these projects to be exempt from various taxes and ensuring they have some degree of financial support.
Only California and Arizona (which is supplying some PV electricity to neighbouring California) have more solar generation than North Carolina.
Apple shows support for various types of clean energy
Solar power is not the only form of clean energy that Apple is interested in. Apple’s data center in Maiden, North Carolina is powered by a mix of hydrogen fuel cells and solar panels. The company has praised fuel cells for their ability to generate reliable electrical power, even when they are cut off from a primary fuel source for extended periods of time. A growing number of tech companies like Apple are beginning to use fuel cells to power their data centres as well.
Fuel cells for PV electricity storage
A fuel cell uses an anode and a cathode to turn the chemical energy of a fuel (e.g. methanol, hydrogen) into electricity, rather than burning the fuel. The energy available is the same as in combustion, but electrical energy is higher quality - for example modern (large) electric motors are very nearly 100% efficient; and try running your PC from your wood burning stove :) Renewable Energy