Apple has selected Tesla to provide 85 Megapack batteries for its solar farm in California. The batteries will be capable of storing up to 240 megawatt-hours of energy, which is enough to power 7,000 average-sized homes for a full day.
Tesla went into the solar power business when it acquired another one of Elon Musk’s companies, SolarCity, for $2.6 billion in 2016. SolarCity was best known for its solar rooftops. Tesla has since established the Powerwall, a solar power battery for home use that is available as an add-on for new solar rooftops and solar panels. The Megapack is an “industrial strength” version of the Powerwall that was first introduced in 2019.
Tesla’s financial filings indicate that the solar power, Powerwall, and Megapack side of its business only accounts for about 6% of its revenue, although it grew by 30% in 2019. The vast majority of the company’s revenue comes from the sale of electric vehicles, which had a record year for deliveries in 2020 and helped boost the company to profitability. Tesla also earned $1.58 billion in carbon credit sales in 2020, although it claims in court filings that the Trump Administration’s scuttling of environmental regulations harmed the carbon credit market.
Apple’s plans to add the Megapack batteries were detailed in paperwork filed with the Monterey County Board of Supervisors proposing changes to the already-approved construction of the solar farm facility. The filings indicate that the Megapack batteries and associated infrastructure will fit within the footprint described in the original plan.
The solar farm will be used to power Apple’s headquarters in California. The addition of the Megapacks seems designed to address the criticism that some renewable energy sources, especially wind and solar, is intermittent.
“If we can do it, and we can show that it works for us, it takes away the concerns about intermittency and it helps the grid in terms of stabilization. It’s something that can be imitated or built upon by other companies,” said Apple VP Lisa Jackson.
Of course, not everything has always been rosy between the two companies. Elon Musk said that he pitched the idea of selling Tesla to Apple in 2018, but Apple CEO Tim Cook refused to even meet to discuss it. Musk has since floated the idea of merging with another automaker, although there seems to be no definite progress toward a merger since then and any talks with other automakers seem limited to the possibility of licensing Tesla’s Full Self-Driving software for use in their vehicles.
Apple has issued hints that it is developing its own electric vehicle, the tentatively named “Apple Car,” which could compete with Tesla’s vehicles. Both companies have been known to poach employees away from one another.
Any possible tensions between the two companies will not stop Apple from making use of Tesla’s Megapacks for its solar farm, which it now touts as one of the biggest Megapack installations in the country. Tesla has built bigger Megapack installations in Australia and just south of Houston, Texas, both of which can store about 100 MW in power.