Apple now generating clean energy for 100 percent of its China operations

Apple has announced two new programs aimed at reducing the carbon footprint of its manufacturing partners in China. The programs will avoid over 20 million metric tons of greenhouse gas pollution in the country between now and 2020, equivalent to taking nearly four million passenger vehicles off the road for one year, according to Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives.

Apple also announced that construction on 40 megawatts of solar projects in the Sichuan Province is now complete. These solar installations produce more than the total amount of electricity used by Apple’s offices and retail stores in China, making Apple's operations carbon neutral in China, Jackson says.

Apple is expanding its clean-energy investments in China. The company plans to build more than 200 megawatts of solar projects in the northern, eastern and southern grid regions of China, which will produce the equivalent of the energy used by more by than 265,000 Chinese homes in a year and will begin to offset the energy used in Apple’s supply chain.

Second, Apple is launching a new initiative to drive its manufacturing partners to become more energy efficient and to use clean energy for their manufacturing operations. The company will partner with suppliers in China to install more than 2 gigawatts of new clean energy in the coming years.

Jackson says Apple also will share best practices in procuring clean energy and building high-quality renewable energy projects, and provide hands-on assistance to some suppliers in areas like energy efficiency audits, regulatory guidance and building strong partnerships to bring new clean energy projects to China.

As part of Apple’s program, Foxconn will construct 400 megawatts of solar, starting in the Henan Province, by 2018. Foxconn has committed to generate as much clean energy as its Zhengzhou factory consumes in final production of iPhone, according to Terry Gou, founder and CEO of Foxconn Technology Group.

In response to Apple’s announcement, Greenpeace USA Senior IT Sector Analyst Gary Cook said: “We need governments and companies to transition us to renewable energy as rapidly as possible, and Apple's announcement today is a major step forward in building a renewably powered supply chain for its products.  We have seen Apple lead the sector in building a renewably powered internet, and hope that Samsung, Microsoft, and other IT companies will follow their lead in manufacturing their cutting-edge devices with a 21st century energy supply.”

Electronics manufacturing uses large amounts of energy in China and globally and is growing rapidly, estimated to be as much as two percent of total global electricity use by 2017, according to Greenpeace. Much of the electronics manufacturing industry is based in China, which relies heavily on coal for electricity generation, underscoring the importance of shifting manufacturing toward renewable energy to reduce air pollution and carbon emissions, adds Cook.

You can learn more about Apple’s environmental efforts here.