Apple’s $60 million solar farm near Reno now operational

Overhead view of the newly completed Turquoise solar farm in Washoe County, the company’s fourth solar project in the state.

Overhead view of the newly completed Turquoise solar farm in Washoe County, the company’s fourth solar project in the state. Photo: Apple

Apple’s latest investment into renewable energy in Nevada — the Turquoise Solar Project in Washoe County — is now up and running.

The 61 MWdc (megawatts of direct current) solar farm is located east of Reno on roughly 180 acres within the 2,200-acre master planned Reno Technology Park.

The tech giant announced the news on March 17 in conjunction with partner Greenbacker Renewable Energy Company (GREC), the utility-scale renewable energy development company that owns Turquoise Solar.

“Turquoise … is very highly regarded in the solar power industry,” Charles Wheeler, CEO of GREC, said in a press release. “Completing it has been a huge accomplishment and is the product of a tremendous collaborative effort between the parties involved.

“… Despite an extremely challenging year across the country, 2020 was a year of growth for us, as we continued to bring amazing new wind and solar projects like this one online. During the year, our total investment income increased by 60% reflecting the strong growth we’ve achieved thanks to projects like Turquoise.”

The estimated $60 million project reached commercial operation in December and “has outperformed expected power generation to date, despite lower-than-expected levels of sunshine,” according to GREC.

Turquoise Solar, originally developed by Estuary Capital Partners and Sumitomo Corporation of Americas, was acquired by GREC in 2019. Construction began in November of that year and created 236 clean energy construction jobs, over 90% of which were filled by Nevada residents.

According to GREC, since much of Turquoise Solar is located on rocky desert terrain, thus presenting “a unique engineering challenge,” the project’s lead contractor, McCarthy Building Companies, Inc., partnered with TerraSmart to design and engineer a plan for the site.

“Thanks to the collaborative partnership with TerraSmart, this was another project where our team could design and engineer a solution for a solar project that had very unique terrain challenges,” Scott Canada, senior vice president of McCarthy’s Renewable Energy Group, said in a statement. “We are also grateful to the exceptional local craft workforce for their ability to work safely and efficiently during these challenging times.

“Their efforts ensured the commission of the Turquoise Solar Project, allowing for the generation of clean energy to power Apple’s data center.”

This site is delivering 50 megawatts of renewable power to Apple’s data center at the Reno Technology Park, joining the company’s three other renewable projects in Nevada that deliver 270 megawatts.

According to Apple, Turquoise Solar represents one small piece of its $4.7 billion “Green Bond” initiative that aims to avoid an average of 921,000 metric tons of carbon emissions annually, equivalent to removing nearly 200,000 cars from the road.

“Apple is proud that for nearly three years we’ve powered all of our worldwide operations with 100 percent renewable energy," Lisa Jackson, Apple's Vice President of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives, said in a statement. "In the process, we've charted a course for other companies and organizations to bring clean energy projects to communities around the world and help combat climate change.

“We’re excited to have the Turquoise Solar Project bringing new renewable energy to Nevada.”


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