This week Apple announced its plans to open a new factory in Mesa, Arizona — a facility that “will run on 100 percent renewable energy from day one.” The move will bring a manufacturing boost to the state, creating 2,000 new jobs, all without requiring additional energy from Mesa.
“Banking on Arizona’s abundant sunshine, Apple will create a new solar grid in the city for the facility’s power,” Gigaom reported. In addition to solar, the plant will also use geothermal energy, according to Forbes.
As Dave Roberts elaborated, “Arizona has unbounded potential for solar and a rapidly growing solar industry.” First, it has the highest solar insolation of any U.S. state, which means it gets a tremendous amount of sunlight. In addition, a study out of Arizona State University’s business school combined several factors, including costs, to create an “Optimal Deployment of Solar Index” and determined the most promising state for solar production is Arizona.
The Mesa factory will make sapphire glass used to cover the camera lenses in Apple’s phones and the fingerprint-reading devices in its latest products. The facility was initially constructed by First Solar and intended to produce thin-film solar panels, but was never used due to the sharp drop in solar panel prices that forced the company to restructure.
Apple announced last December that it was investing $100 million to bring some of its manufacturing back to the U.S. And as Inhabitat reported, Apple’s latest move mirrors a string of other companies that have recently decided to return their electronics manufacturing to the U.S., including Google and its new Moto X factory in Austin, Texas. The benefits of this trend are manifold because it “not only reduces the amount of fuel burned on international travel, but stricter manufacturing standards ensure greater environmental and safety standards that make your electronic just a little bit greener.”