Environmentally conscious solar panel manufacturer SunPower Corporation today announced a partnership with Apple that will result in two solar power projects totaling 40 megawatts in the "environmentally-preserved" ABA Region of China's Sichuan Province.
Currently under construction, the projects will be split across two sites both eventually totaling 20 megawatts each. The first site, located in Hongyuan, is already generating 2 megawatts of power thanks to technology that includes single-axis tracking with rows of parabolic mirrors that reflect light onto SunPower's "Maxeon" cells, "which are the world's most efficient commercially available mass-produced solar cells." The second project is located in Ruoergai County.
As the first solar powered projects deployed in the ABA Region, the combined sites are expected to churn out up to 80 million kilowatt-hours each year. Upon completion, each project will be co-owned by Apple and Sichuan Shengtian New Energy Development Co., Ltd, SunPower's project development joint venture. Work on both sites is expected to be completed by the fourth quarter of 2015.
Speaking with The Associated Press, Lisa Jackson, Apple's vice president for environmental initiatives, discussed the new China-focused solar power project, suggesting the company's partnership with SunPower in the region is only the start of a bigger environmentally-focused push by Apple.
"It's important to us to tackle climate change everywhere we are," Jackson told The Associated Press. "When you talk about China, you're talking about manufacturing partners. We're looking to bring the same innovation there. This is the start."
"Before we go somewhere else and start asking and eventually requiring clean energy, you want to make sure you show folks how to do it," said Jackson, who was U.S. Environmental Protection Agency administrator during President Barack Obama's first term.
Apple and SunPower have collaborated stateside in the past, with six plants ranging from California to Nevada and North Carolina. Today's announcements mark the first international solar power partnership between Apple and SunPower.