Global technology giant Apple has reached its goal of being powered by 100 per cent clean energy, but the company is holding fire on investing in any energy projects in Australia.
The Californian-based company is keen to show it is a good corporate citizen and serious about tackling climate change. Apple chief executive Tim Cook on Tuesday morning (6am Sydney time) announced the creator of the iMac and iPhone had reached its milestone of all of its global facilities using 100 per cent renewable energy sources.
This includes its retail stores, offices, data centres and co-located facilities in 43 countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, China and India, according to Apple.
Apple is also using its clout to force its suppliers to embrace renewable energy. The company announced nine additional manufacturing partners had committed to power all their Apple production with 100 per cent clean energy, taking the total number of supplies taking part in Apple’s green dream to 23.
At one of Apple’s suppliers in China, solar panels are mounted high off the ground to let sunlight shine through, so grass can grow and local yaks can eat it. Supplied
This will help avoid 1.5 million metric tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions from entering the atmosphere, says Apple.
“We’re committed to leaving the world better than we found it. After years of hard work we’re proud to have reached this significant milestone,” Mr Cook said in a statement.
“We’re going to keep pushing the boundaries of what is possible with the materials in our products, the way we recycle them, our facilities and our work with suppliers to establish creative and forward-looking sources of renewable energy because we know the future depends on it.”
Apple’s environmental boss, Lisa Jackson, last year signalled the global tech giant was looking at expanding into Australia’s energy market including possible stakes in solar and wind projects as part of a push to reduce its carbon footprint.
Ms Jackson – the senior vice-president of environment, policy and social initiatives for Apple who reports directly to Mr Cook – said at the time the company was looking to “move closer to the supply of electricity” in Australia.
This was more likely to be in the form of a direct stake in an energy project, rather than investing in a new power plant on its own.
Apple is yet to make a play into the Australian market, but it is keeping its green credentials by procuring power for its Australian retail stores, corporate offices and co-located data facilities from green energy schemes supplied by local energy retailers.
25 operational renewable energy projects
Apple now has 25 operational renewable energy projects around the world, totalling 626 megawatts of generation capacity. A record 286 megawatts of solar photovoltaic generation came on-line last year.
There are a further 15 projects in construction, which will take the technology giant’s renewable energy generation to more than 1.4 gigawatts across 11 countries.
Apple’s most well-known renewable energy project is its new headquarters in Cupertino, California, south of San Francisco, which opened last year. It is now the largest LEED platinum-certified office building in North America.
Apple Park – which was rumoured to have cost a staggering $6 billion for its 12,000 employees – is powered by a 17 megawatt on-site solar installation as well as 4 megawatts of biogas fuel cells controlled by a microgrid with battery storage. Any excess energy is pumped back into the Californian power grid.
Apple recently announced plans to build a 37,000 square metre state-of-the-art data centre in Waukee, Iowa, that will run entirely on renewable energy on day one. Its existing data centre in Maiden, North Carolina, is supported by projects that generate 244 million kilowatt-hours of renewable energy a year, which is equivalent to more than 17,000 homes.
It also has deals to install more than 300 rooftop solar systems in Japan to generate 18,000 megawatt-hours of clean energy every year and a 200 megawatt power purchasing agreement for an Oregon wind farm, which is set to come on-line by the end of next year.
Perhaps Apple’s biggest influence when it comes to tackling climate change is to ask its suppliers, including those in China, to become 100 per cent renewable to keep their business with the tech giant. It says about 75 per cent of its carbon footprint comes from its wider supply chain.
Apple has set up a website to help suppliers become “green” and is using its financial clout help suppliers secure affordable power purchasing deals with retailers around the world.
It is also trying to find ways to source the components of its products, including the 20,000 parts in an iPhone, from reusable or renewable (compostable) products, as part of a “closed loop” supply chain.