Apple picks single axis trackers and bifacial solar panels (w/pictures!)


Apple is one of the leading corporate renewable energy purchasers in the United States, with global 100% clean energy goals. When asked whether clean energy hurt the company’s bottom line, Apple CEO Tim Cook responded bluntly:

If you want me to do things only for ROI reasons, you should get out of this stock.

However while single-minded investors may be advised to “get out,” developers are getting in on opportunities offered by the tech giant’s insatiable renewable generation appetite.

Swinerton Renewable Energy is deploying just over 688,000+ solar modules from LONGi and Canadian Solar, to be gently rocked by NEXTracker single axis trackers and managed by Sungrow inverters on just over 1,000 acres of land in the City of Boulder, Nevada. The facility signed a 3.115¢/kWh power purchase agreement with Apple that was projected to start July 1, 2019 and run through the end of 2044.

The facility is part of a broader group of five solar projects in the Techren family, imaginatively named Techren I, II, III, IV and V. Located deep within NV Energy filings (page 91 and 92 of the 400+ page pdf), below we get to see first the whole group’s relationship to the local Nevada Solar One 230 kv substation:

From the same document (below image), we also get to see some of the Techren II one line diagrams. And located on the right side of the page comes a nice technical nugget  – “*note: The exact MW amount at each of the revenue meters is greater than the facilities’ specified MW amount for each facility in order to achieve the desired MW amount at the point of interconnection” – to remind us that the process of designing a solar layout is evolving. This evolution is being done to meet power grid needs versus simply electricity generation needs. The Techren II site will have six individual feeder lines behind its single interconnection point – between 32.4 and 38.5 MWac each, with 16 and 19 inverters each.

NV Energy, in conjunction with Apple, designated 5 MW of the Techren II facility to be part of the utility’s Subscription Solar program. The program allows NV Energy customers to subscribe to 100-kilowatt hour blocks of solar energy generated within the state.

In the NV Energy Integrated Resource Plan Summary (pdf) filed in April, it is noted that the facility has an expected cost of $567,165,000 to be spent at a price of $31.15/MWh via a sales agreement with Apple between 7/1/19 and 12/31/2044.

NEXTracker’s Case Study (pdf) of the facility notes NX Horizon technology being implemented, and that the company “orchestrated” the delivery of more than 700 containers of components from Mexico and Portugal at an average pace of 25 MW/week during a two-and-a-half-month period.

NEXTracker’s design also highlighted over 200 hours of value engineering work and quality review with Swinerton Renewable Energy’s engineering crew. The facility can withstand 115 mph (185 kmh) wind speeds.

Sungrow 1500V Central Inverter Solutions in 200 MW Solar Project in Nevada

Above we see the Sungrow solar inverter being installed from a January press release. The facility is expected to generated 571.9 GWh of electricity per year, an AC capacity factor of 32.6% and a DC capacity factor of 26.0%.

In an image of Sungrow being installed from From Swinteron’s Instagram page (which in my opinon is one of the best solar power instagrams out there) we get a closeup of the bifacial panel backside:


And directly from the press teams at Swinerton Renewable Energy, as well NEXTracker, come pictures that were taken three weeks ago during installation. A few things to note are how the solar modules are laid out in pallets across the site, that the modules are loaded one at a time to the racking in a single portrait position, and that there are hard working human beings (with a needed shade break on their smartphones) building these sites.

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