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Apple to use renewable energy for new $1B campus in Austin, Texas

Apple Inc. will build a new $1 billion campus in Austin, Texas, powered exclusively by renewable energy resources, the company announced Dec. 13.

"The new campus will include 50 acres of preserved open space and, like all Apple facilities worldwide, its workspaces will be powered by 100% renewable energy," the Silicon Valley tech giant said in a news release. The 133-acre facility will house 5,000 new employees initially, with the potential to grow to 15,000, making Apple the largest private employer in Austin, the company said.

Apple did not immediately respond to requests for comment seeking specific details about the renewable energy it plans to procure for its new campus in Austin.

In April, Apple said it reached its target of powering all its retail stores, data centers and offices in 43 countries with only clean energy. As the company expands, it is procuring more renewables to fuel its growth, which also includes adding 1,000 new employees in Seattle; San Diego; and Culver City, Calif., and $10 billion in new data centers over the next five years. In August, Apple teamed up with several other companies to buy 290 MW from wind and solar facilities in the PJM Interconnection.

The news comes at the end of a record year for renewable energy purchases by nonutility companies. Through Oct. 17, corporations had contracted for nearly 5,000 MW of renewable energy in 59 transactions in 2018, according to the Rocky Mountain Institute, a nonprofit group that promotes market-based solutions for the adoption of low-carbon energy sources, compared to roughly 2,780 MW in 31 deals in 2017. The nonprofit group counts more than 14,200 MW of corporate renewable energy purchases since 2013, led by technology companies like Alphabet Inc.'s Google LLC, Amazon.com Inc., Apple, Facebook Inc. and Microsoft Corp.

Such volumes may be just the start. The Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance, for instance, has set a goal for corporations to purchase 60 GW of renewable energy in the U.S. by 2025, triggering calls for more collaboration with grid operators to integrate renewables reserved by corporate off-takers.

Moreover, companies like Google are exploring how to power their facilities with energy storage-backed renewable energy as the next frontier of their clean energy commitments, which currently are measured on an annual basis. Storage could help companies reduce their daily reliance on fossil fuels when intermittent wind and solar resources are not producing power.

"We already have seen a lot of onsite corporate procurement of energy storage for demand charge shaving and now we are going to see a different kind of corporate procurement, more of how storage can play a role in balancing their energy consumption patterns with the clean energy generation goals they have," Ravi Manghani, director of energy storage at Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables, said in an interview.