Business Spotlight: Apple Thinks Different on Clean Energy

We recently blogged about the remarkable commitment that iconic credit card company Visa made to use 100 percent renewable electricity across its global operations by the end of 2019. But it is far from the largest company to make such a pledge. In fact, the RE100 collaborative initiative includes global businesses that are committing to 100 percent renewable power.

One of the world’s largest and most valuable companies, technology behemoth Apple Inc., launched an ambitious clean energy program in 2015 and has already reached some very impressive benchmarks. Most notably, it reports that 100 percent of the electricity it now uses to power its data centers comes from energy sources like solar, hydro, and wind power. Overall, 96 percent of the power used by its facilities worldwide are using clean energy, and they are striving for perfection by 2020.

To help make its goals achievable, Apple is taking some incredibly ambitious steps.

For example, it has essentially created its own clean energy utility by establishing a subsidiary that has received a federal designation to become a wholesale seller of electricity across the country. Apple’s motives for this effort are not just idealistic—they’re economic. Apple recognizes that renewable energy and other energy innovations are increasingly competitive with traditional resources. They have also determined that by generating their own power and reselling it, they can reduce its power costs significantly. (In states with net metering, a lot of individual homeowners with rooftop solar panels are figuring that out as well.)

Apple also announced a $1 billion “green bond” last year, which will allow it to finance projects such wind and solar power plants and energy-efficient buildings.

Apple is even helping the companies in its supply chain bring 4 gigawatts of renewable power online by 2020, including 14 of its manufacturing partners that have committed to powering all of their Apple production with clean energy.

And perhaps the most tangible demonstration of all is its beautiful new Apple Park in Cupertino, California, which will be the largest LEED Platinum-certified office building in North America once it is complete. It is powered by 100 percent renewable energy, three-quarters of which is generated onsite by a 17-megawatt rooftop solar installation, one of the biggest solar roofs in the world, and 4 megawatts of baseload biogas fuel cells. The campus includes facilities dedicated to energy research and development.

Apple’s leadership is critical because it is so well-known and influential. They are blazing the trail for other companies to follow, especially in the technology sector. We applaud them for setting an example for pursuing 100 percent renewable energy goals.

We will continue to recognize businesses of all sizes in upcoming posts, but our next business spotlight will profile another large company that has become a household name—Walmart.


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