Apple announced on Monday, that its business is now powered by 100 percent renewable energy sources. The news is a major victory that the iPhone maker has been working towards for years.
The announcement came just a week after Google announced that it now purchases enough renewable energy to offset its global energy consumption. Similarly, Apple's global operations, including some suppliers from China and facilities in places without access to clean energy, are not technically 100 percent renewable, which means that not every single joule or electron used is initially created by wind, solar, or other green energy plants and farms.
Apple stores that are powered by municipal power grids cannot reliably use clean energy because once electricity enters the grid, you can no longer determine its source of cleanliness. As a way to account for that, Apple purchases what are known as Renewable Energy Certificate, which is a tradable commodity that guarantees the cleanliness of an energy source. Apple also invests in wind, solar and other clean energy facilities around the globe, build their own energy sources and ensures that any new offices and plants it constructs in the future, will actually run on 100 percent clean energy – like the newly opened Apple Park campus. The company says it also puts excess green energy into the grid so that it can be used by others.
Apple says that their approach differs from others in the tech industry in some key ways. For one, the company claims it always seeks to fund and build its own energy projects and does so for around two-thirds of all its energy needs globally.
"Where it’s not feasible to build our own generation, we sign long-term renewable energy purchase contracts, supporting new, local projects that meet our robust renewable energy sourcing principles," reads Apple's Environmental Responsibility Report published in 2017. "In cases where we aren’t able to create new renewable energy projects ourselves due to local constraints, we directly purchase renewable energy from newer projects in nearby markets, or through available utility green energy programs. Apple says that when it purchases REQs, “we require that they are Green-e Energy certified and come from the same power grid – and preferably the same state – as the Apple facility they support."
Apple is working towards the goal to make sure every single retail store, office, data centre and manufacturing facility worldwide, in all 43 countries it operates in, run on 100 percent clean energy. It is definitely going to be a challenge given the dependency on electric grids and energy hurdles in manufacturing hubs like China, but Apple is pledging to get there as fast as it can.
"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," Apple CEO Tim 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 new, creative and forward-looking sources of renewable energy because we know the future depends on it."
Apple's press release breaks down some of the numbers and further explains the company's timeline for its commitment to combat climate change, something Cook has spoken publicly about before.
"Apple currently has 25 operational renewable energy projects around the world, totalling 626 megawatts of generation capacity, with 286 megawatts of solar PV generation coming online in 2017, it's most ever in one year," reads Apple’s press release from Monday. "It also has 15 more projects in construction. Once built, over 1.4 gigawatts of clean renewable energy generation will be spread across 11 countries."