Apple Solar Project in China Hailed as Important First Step

California giant invests in 40MW solar project together with SunPower and four Chinese firms

Jason Verge

April 17, 2015

2 Min Read
Apple Solar Project in China Hailed as Important First Step
O (Photo: Apple)

Apple is investing in a new Chinese solar power project as part of a larger push to use sustainable resources internationally.

The Apple solar investment is for a project with capacity of 40 megawatts, or enough to power 20 corporate offices and 20 retail stores in China and Hong Kong. The plant is being built in partnership with U.S.-based SunPower as well as four Chinese firms.

Apple now uses renewable energy for 87 percent of its facilities worldwide and the company’s data center energy supply is 100 percent renewable, making it a Greenpeace darling. These figures don’t include contract manufacturers, which Apple still relies on in China.

"It's important to us to tackle climate change everywhere we are," said Lisa Jackson, Apple's vice president for environmental initiatives, in a statement to The Associated Press. "When you talk about China, you're talking about manufacturing partners. We're looking to bring the same innovation there. This is the start.”

Stateside, Apple solar investments have been extensive. Apple is spending $850 million for half the output of 280 megawatt facility south of Apple's Culpertino, California, campus. Other Apple solar projects include a third solar farm in North Carolina and plans for a 20 megawatt solar farm in Reno, Nevada. It has been less active internationally, but this is being hailed as an important first step.

“Apple's announcement today is a significant first step toward addressing its energy footprint in China, and sets an important precedent for other companies that have operations in China: they can take action to power their operations with renewable energy,” said Greenpeace analyst Gary Cook.

China relies heavily on coal power but has aggressive goals for solar, wind and hydroelectric. Big corporations like Apple taking initiative is positive.

“The next step for Apple should be to work with its suppliers to power its manufacturing operations in China with 100% renewable energy,” Greenpeace East Asia Senior Renewable Campaigner Yuan Ying said. Chinese policies to reduce coal consumption and boost renewable energy are working, but there needs to be more rapid progress, Ying said. Some responsibility falls on companies with large manufacturing operations.

Apple also announced recently it was preserving 36,000 acres of timberland in Maine.

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