ENERGY-RENEWABLES/JAPAN

(REUTERS)

Apple Investing $850M in California Solar Farm

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Apple Inc (AAPL) Chief Executive Tim Cook said on Tuesday the technology company is investing $850 million to help build a solar farm in California with solar panel maker First Solar.

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The project in Monterey County, California will provide enough energy for 60,000 homes as well as Apple's future head office in nearby Cupertino, Cook said at a Goldman Sachs technology conference in San Francisco.

"We know in Apple that climate change is real. The time for talk is passed," he said. "The time for action is now."

First Solar, based in Tempe, Arizona, manufactures solar panels and also builds solar power plants, many of which it sells to power producers.

Construction of the 2,900-acre California Flats Solar Project is expected to start in mid-2015 and finish by the end of next year, First Solar said in a statement.

Apple will receive electricity from 130 megawatts of capacity under a 25-year purchase agreement, the largest in the industry to provide clean energy to a commercial end user, First Solar said. Output of the project's remaining 150 megawatts will go to Pacific Gas and Electric Co <PCG_pa.A>.

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Apple already uses renewable energy to power its data centers. Last week, it said it would invest $2 billion over 10 years to convert a failed sapphire glass plant in Arizona into a data center that would be powered mostly by solar energy.

"Apple still has work to do to reduce its environmental footprint, but other Fortune 500 CEOs would be well served to make a study of Tim Cook," Greenpeace said in a statement following Tuesday's announcement.

Shares of Apple ended up 1.92 percent at $122.02.

First Solar's stock rose 3 percent in extended trade after closing up 4.77 percent at $48.54.

(By Christina Farr; Writing by Noel Randewich; Editing by Richard Chang)