SunPower to build three solar farms for Apple in China

SunPower will build three solar farms in China’s Inner Mongolia region with a capacity of 170 megawatts for Apple, a sale that will more than quadruple the Mac/iPhone/iPad maker’s commitments to pollution-free power in the country, reports Bloomberg.

SunPower designs and manufactures high-efficiency crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells, roof tiles and solar panels based on a silicon all-back-contact solar cell invented at Stanford University. When completed next year, the company, Tianjin Zhonghuan Semiconductor. and another partner will own the three plants, San Jose, SunPower said in a regulatory filing Wednesday. While the third investor wasn’t identified in the statement, SunPower Chief Executive Officer Tom Werner said Wednesday that Apple would take an equity stake in the new projects, notes Bloomberg.

In April the company agreed to build 40 megawatts of solar for Apple in the Sichuan province. Last month, the Cupertino, California-based company 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 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.

What’s more, 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 two 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.