Enough solar to produce 80 million kilowatt-hours per yearJust yesterday, I was writing that we're in the middle of a solar revolution, with the pace of progress accelerating as costs plummet, guaranteeing big change on the horizon. One more example of the beginning of this solar era came today when Apple, the biggest company in the world (by market cap), announced that it will build two more solar farms, this time in China (they already have a few in the US, and are planning to build more there).
In a joint venture with SunPower, Apple is building two new 20 megawatt solar farms. Construction has already begun and 2 MW of solar capacity are already sending power to the grid. "The technology combines single-axis tracking technology with rows of parabolic mirrors, reflecting light onto high efficiency SunPower Maxeon cells, which are the world's most efficient commercially available mass-produced solar cells. Completion of the projects is expected in the fourth quarter of 2015. [...] The projects are expected to provide up to 80 million kilowatt-hours per year while also protecting the ecosystem."
36,000 acres of forests for conservationThe fruit company also wants to make sure that the packaging for its products comes from sustainably managed forests, so it has partnered with the Conservation Fund to manage 36,000 acres of forest that it has bought in Maine and North Carolina. These forests will be protected from development, staying forests forever, though some wood will be sustainably harvested from them.
“Apple is clearly leading by example—one that we hope others will follow,” said Larry Selzer, president and CEO of The Conservation Fund. “By all accounts, the loss of America’s working forests is one of our nation’s greatest environmental challenges. The initiative announced today is precedent-setting.”
Greenpeace, an organization that has been critical of Apple in the past but has been more positive on the recent developments had this to say about these recent announcements:
“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 USA Senior IT Sector Analyst Gary Cook.
Greenpeace East Asia Senior Renewable Campaigner Yuan Ying said: “The next step for Apple should be to work with its suppliers to power its manufacturing operations in China with 100% renewable energy. Chinese policies to reduce coal consumption and boost renewable energy are working, but we need more rapid progress to clean up air pollution choking major Chinese cities and achieve a peak and then reduction in Chinese carbon pollution as quickly as possible. Companies with manufacturing operations and large energy consumption in China have a responsibility to help accelerate the shift to renewable energy.
“China has promised to increase the share of non-fossil fuels in its energy mix to 15% by 2020 with wind and solar capacities reaching 200 GW and 100 GW respectively. Both local and global companies have begun to pursue renewable energy deals to power their operations in China, and with companies like Apple leading the way we expect significantly growing interest from the market in investing in renewable energy, and the 2020 target will be confidently secured.”
Above is a photo of Apple's new HQ, which is under construction in Cupertino, California, right now. It'll be 100% solar powered too.
Update: For Earth Day, Apple has released this video to show some of their environmental initiatives: