Environmental Progress Report highlights Apple's ongoing commitment to renewable energy

Posted:
in General Discussion
Apple released its annual Environmental Progress Report on Tuesday, showing how the company continues to strive toward being carbon neutral.

Image Credit: Apple Environmental Progress Report 2020
Image Credit: Apple Environmental Progress Report 2020


In 2018, Apple was able to claim that their data centers, distribution centers, retail stores, and corporate offices all run on 100% renewable energy. Over 83% of the renewable energy that Apple sourced up to January 2020 -- equal to 1.2 gigawatts -- comes from Apple-created projects.

To put that into perspective -- the average American uses a little over 10,000 kilowatts of electricity a year. It would take an individual nearly 120 years to consume 1.2 gigawatts of power at our current per capita rate.

Apple broadly classifies an 'Apple-created' project" in three categories.




The largest category by far is Apple's long-term renewable energy contracts. While this means that technically the energy provided to their companies may come from fossil fuels, a large portion of the money they spend goes into research, development, and eventual deployment of local renewable energy projects, such as solar and wind farms.

The second-largest category is Apple's directly owned projects. Whenever possible, Apple builds its own renewable energy projects. Projects built include solar and wind farms, biogas fuel cells, and low-impact hydro projects.

Their smallest category is equity investment. When Apple can't build its own projects, it uses its capital to invest in renewable energy projects, such as solar photovoltaic farms or wind projects. This enables the company to become part-owner, allowing them to match the renewable generation with their energy use.

Apple states its goal is to cover all of its electric use with Apple-created projects eventually.

As it turns out, Apple isn't satisfied with running on 100% renewable energy. It wants its suppliers to do the same. About 75% of Apple's carbon footprint is in its global supply chain. Of that 75%, about 70% of its emissions come from electricity.

In 2019, Apple began stepping in and encouraging its production partners to do the same. Apple's suppliers are slowly but surely making the leap to greener alternatives to fossil fuels, such as solar, wind, biomass, and hydroelectric. The company has set the goal of having a supply chain that is powered entirely by renewable energy by 2030.

Now, Apple plans on helping the communities around it make steps toward going green as well. In 2019, they launched their "Power for Impact" program, allowing local communities and organizations to access cost-effective, renewable energy. The project has already begun in developing countries where Apple has relatively small energy needs, such as the Philippines, where they've installed a 100-kilowatt rooftop solar panel in an educational facility.

Concord Jing Tang wind farm | Image Credit: Apple
Concord Jing Tang wind farm | Image Credit: Apple


Apple is also encouraging aggregation efforts, like last year's China Clean Energy Fund. By encouraging buyers to band together to purchase renewable energy, it gives smaller companies the chance to access cost-effective renewable energy that they may not be able to access independently.

But these aren't the only steps Apple is taking. One of the most interesting moves Apple has made is voluntary withdrawal away from government-subsidized renewable energy projects.

Government subsidies are crucial for many companies looking to take their first steps into energy efficiency. They also increase the availability, affordability, and efficacy of renewable energy projects.

However, like many subsidies, government-subsidized renewable energy incentives are highly competitive. By removing itself from competing companies' pool, Apple gives other companies a chance to take their first steps toward becoming more environmentally sound.

According to Apple's 2020 Environmental Progress Report, its subsidy-free, 42-megawatt solar photovoltaic project in Denmark entered service in late 2019. This project powers its new Viborg data center with 100% renewable energy and has done so since day one.

Apple is also encouraging the Chinese renewable market to transition from subsidized Feed-in-Tariffs to non-subsidized grid-parity projects.

Apple's dedication to offsetting it's impact on the environment is admirable and consistently sets the bar high for its competitors. Many environmental agencies and advocates have taken notice as well.

"Greenpeace USA welcomes Apple's commitment to reduce its carbon emissions to help prevent further catastrophic climate change--the impacts of which will fall most on Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities," Greenpeace USA Senior Corporate Campaigner, Elizabeth Jardim said. "This commitment is a significant step up from what we've seen from Apple in the past.

Of course, Apple benefits from these efforts as well. Aside from the benefits to the environment, Apple's fanbase often cites its corporate compassion and responsibility as a reason to continue to buy from them.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 8
    PLEASE! No more ass-ugly giant white monoliths across our natural scenes! If Apple is truly going no-carbon (of course it uses a lot of carbon to make no-carbon production devices), please stick with solar, hydro, and nuclear. So many of our beautiful western vistas are now destroyed by the need of Seattle and the I-5 Corridor down through California to have windmills to make their power (especially when we have a surplus already of hydro and nuclear).
    mobirdjony0
  • Reply 2 of 8
    BeatsBeats Posts: 3,073member
    respencer said:
    PLEASE! No more ass-ugly giant white monoliths across our natural scenes! If Apple is truly going no-carbon (of course it uses a lot of carbon to make no-carbon production devices), please stick with solar, hydro, and nuclear. So many of our beautiful western vistas are now destroyed by the need of Seattle and the I-5 Corridor down through California to have windmills to make their power (especially when we have a surplus already of hydro and nuclear).

    I like Apple's high solar panels that don't bother wildlife. I believe Apple leaves these on property they own.
    respencer
  • Reply 3 of 8
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 6,447member
    respencer said:
    PLEASE! No more ass-ugly giant white monoliths across our natural scenes! If Apple is truly going no-carbon (of course it uses a lot of carbon to make no-carbon production devices), please stick with solar, hydro, and nuclear. So many of our beautiful western vistas are now destroyed by the need of Seattle and the I-5 Corridor down through California to have windmills to make their power (especially when we have a surplus already of hydro and nuclear).
    Seattle's electricity only gets like 7% from wind. 

    You know not everywhere is a suitable site for all kinds of energy generation, right?
  • Reply 4 of 8
    You may want to fact-check the statement: “The largest category by far is Apple's long-term renewable energy contracts. While this means that technically the energy provided to their companies may come from fossil fuels, a large portion of the money they spend goes into research, development, and eventual deployment of local renewable energy projects, such as solar and wind farms.” A long-term renewable energy contract is where you buy the output of a renewable energy project such as solar or wind. It does not involve purchasing fossil fuel power and then investing in ‘research, development, and eventual deployment of local renewable energy.’ It is a direct purchase of renewal power from a renewable source.
    thttmay
  • Reply 5 of 8
    JWSCJWSC Posts: 1,203member
    respencer said:
    PLEASE! No more ass-ugly giant white monoliths across our natural scenes! If Apple is truly going no-carbon (of course it uses a lot of carbon to make no-carbon production devices), please stick with solar, hydro, and nuclear. So many of our beautiful western vistas are now destroyed by the need of Seattle and the I-5 Corridor down through California to have windmills to make their power (especially when we have a surplus already of hydro and nuclear).
    Seattle's electricity only gets like 7% from wind. 

    You know not everywhere is a suitable site for all kinds of energy generation, right?
    With the exception of nuclear, sure I’d agree. Nuclear can go anywhere. Thorium reactors show much promise in that they could be very small and mass produced, which would drive the cost of nuclear down by one and perhaps two orders of magnitude. And with thorium reactors you never have to worry about meltdowns.

    But problems remains. Regulatory bodies are imposing new regulations and restrictions sure to drive up costs.  Then there’s the technical hurdle of preventing corrosion of the tubes that circulate the liquid thorium to drive the generators. And the other slight issue is of the thorium “waste” as it transmutes into uranium-233 over time, which is handy for nuclear weapons.

    So while clear dilemmas remain, the staggering potential should not be overlooked. Imagine one of these things on Apple Campus.  It could power Apple’s extended campus and surrounding neighborhood for decades.

    (Yea, I fully realize that this is the last thing Apple would do. It would horrify them. So much for saving the planet.)
  • Reply 6 of 8
    respencer said:
    PLEASE! No more ass-ugly giant white monoliths across our natural scenes! If Apple is truly going no-carbon (of course it uses a lot of carbon to make no-carbon production devices), please stick with solar, hydro, and nuclear. So many of our beautiful western vistas are now destroyed by the need of Seattle and the I-5 Corridor down through California to have windmills to make their power (especially when we have a surplus already of hydro and nuclear).
    Seattle's electricity only gets like 7% from wind. 

    You know not everywhere is a suitable site for all kinds of energy generation, right?

    That may be, but the Seattle supported "clean energy initiative" from several years ago and federal subsidization has caused thousands of windmills to be built on the east side of the state, again, destroying our vistas so Seattleites can feel good. Of course nuclear and hydro were not allowed to be counted in a utility's portfolio for the required "clean" energy as a part of the Westside initiative. When a company wanted to build windmills in the ocean to support the initiative, liberal heads exploded and they were not permitted. No, we only want windmills where we can't see them or likely ever to travel through. Your vistas be damned, ours to be pristine.

  • Reply 7 of 8
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 6,447member
    JWSC said:
    respencer said:
    PLEASE! No more ass-ugly giant white monoliths across our natural scenes! If Apple is truly going no-carbon (of course it uses a lot of carbon to make no-carbon production devices), please stick with solar, hydro, and nuclear. So many of our beautiful western vistas are now destroyed by the need of Seattle and the I-5 Corridor down through California to have windmills to make their power (especially when we have a surplus already of hydro and nuclear).
    Seattle's electricity only gets like 7% from wind. 

    You know not everywhere is a suitable site for all kinds of energy generation, right?
    With the exception of nuclear, sure I’d agree. Nuclear can go anywhere. Thorium reactors show much promise in that they could be very small and mass produced, which would drive the cost of nuclear down by one and perhaps two orders of magnitude. And with thorium reactors you never have to worry about meltdowns.

    But problems remains. Regulatory bodies are imposing new regulations and restrictions sure to drive up costs.  Then there’s the technical hurdle of preventing corrosion of the tubes that circulate the liquid thorium to drive the generators. And the other slight issue is of the thorium “waste” as it transmutes into uranium-233 over time, which is handy for nuclear weapons.

    So while clear dilemmas remain, the staggering potential should not be overlooked. Imagine one of these things on Apple Campus.  It could power Apple’s extended campus and surrounding neighborhood for decades.

    (Yea, I fully realize that this is the last thing Apple would do. It would horrify them. So much for saving the planet.)
    There are zero operational thorium reactors in the world. Perhaps it's a good solution, but there's clearly a lot of work to be done before rolling that technology out that hasn't been done yet. 
    tht
  • Reply 8 of 8
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 6,447member

    respencer said:
    respencer said:
    PLEASE! No more ass-ugly giant white monoliths across our natural scenes! If Apple is truly going no-carbon (of course it uses a lot of carbon to make no-carbon production devices), please stick with solar, hydro, and nuclear. So many of our beautiful western vistas are now destroyed by the need of Seattle and the I-5 Corridor down through California to have windmills to make their power (especially when we have a surplus already of hydro and nuclear).
    Seattle's electricity only gets like 7% from wind. 

    You know not everywhere is a suitable site for all kinds of energy generation, right?

    That may be, but the Seattle supported "clean energy initiative" from several years ago and federal subsidization has caused thousands of windmills to be built on the east side of the state, again, destroying our vistas so Seattleites can feel good. Of course nuclear and hydro were not allowed to be counted in a utility's portfolio for the required "clean" energy as a part of the Westside initiative. When a company wanted to build windmills in the ocean to support the initiative, liberal heads exploded and they were not permitted. No, we only want windmills where we can't see them or likely ever to travel through. Your vistas be damned, ours to be pristine.

    Gee, sorry about your "vistas", but it's not about "feeling good" — what a ridiculous statement.

    I don't know what you're talking about with regard to hydro, which makes up about 90% of our energy in Seattle. 

    As far as offshore goes, the US has only had one farm in Rhode Island so far. I'm not aware of any Washington offshore wind project proposals in the past, but I fail to see what Seattle being able to see them would have to do with it given we can't see the coast from here. 

    I'm all for wind turbines everywhere I (and you) can see 'em or not. I think they're impressive.
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