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Why Apple and Google are seriously engaged in solar energy?

The largest companies of Silicon Valley are seriously investing in renewable energy. This shows rapid changes that are happening in the field of energy and this market.

Most people think that Apple is a company that makes phones, computers and smart watches, but not the energy supplier. But in August, everything changed: the company received a permission to sell energy from a Californian solar farm bought the last year.

Apple has invested in renewable energy before and claims it wants to narrow down 100% of its energy operations to renewable sources. And the company is not alone in its efforts. Online store Amazon announced the construction of a new 253-megawatt wind farm in West Texas. Google, meanwhile, has invested in the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generation System and has recently joined forces with the SunPower company to provide homeowners with solar panels. Why are these technology companies so interested in renewable energy?

"Electricity is one of the largest items of expenditure for such large corporations," Ash Sharma, solar energy analyst at IHS Technology, says. "It is vital for them to reduce it to a low cost"

A lot of energy is spent on the supply of modern data centers. Servers operate 24/7, and all equipment must be kept cool – this in and of itself costs a pretty penny. But why would Google invest in solar panels for people’s homes? The company says it wants to put “solar potential of the planet” on the map – the data from these panels may form the basis for informing future energy strategies.

Still, the price of solar power decreases more rapidly than many expected. On the energy auction in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates last month, Japanese-Chinese consortium has set the task to build a solar farm that will produce energy cheaper than 2.5 cents per kilowatt-hour, it's much cheaper than the average cost of energy derived from gas and coal in the United States, and today is also the lowest rate for the solar farm.

Sharma believes that the drop in the cost of solar power has much in common with the boom in the production of solar panels.

"In China, a huge production capacity is growing," he explains. "80% of all of the solar panels over the world are accounted for this country."

And because the cost of the solar farm's construction is falling, the world is witnessing the growth of a large number of installations. Several years ago, the 50-megawatt project might seem large. But at present there are several objects already ready to produce several hundred megawatts or more. This includes the world's largest 750-megawatt power plant in Madhya Pradesh in India. The authorities hope that it will be completed in 2017.

Even more exciting researches in the world of solar cells are on the way. New experimental panel are using synthetic materials that mimic the perovskite crystal structure. This makes it cells cheaper to manufacture and highly effective, despite the fact that they are still in the development stage.

Solar energy currently occupies about 1% of the total energy consumption of the world, but the picture is constantly changing. Prices will fall faster and faster. IHS Technology expects that the cost of solar power will fall by 30% next year.

Technogiants are the largest company in the world. Do not be surprised that they decide to invest in the energy sector, as they are still very dependent on its production and cost.


  • November 11, 2016 4:46 PM MSK