Tech giant Apple announced last week that it’s operations are now running on 100% renewable energy, with further projects set to more than double their energy production in the coming years.
Apple’s Energy Use
From their data centre in Reno, Apple uses around 1.1 million square feet on 1,700 acres of land to fill to bursting with data servers. To ensure that these servers cool and that iMusic keeps playing, Apple Pay keeps paying, and iCloud keeps… clouding, the building also houses cooling systems. These filtration walls alone span 150 feet. The place is expanding too, with a further $1 billion being poured in the operation. Similar sites exist across the world, eating energy and using it to keep the Apple shaped world turning. Maintaining the empire is energy hungry work. The servers never go down so the energy requirement is high impact, uninterrupted, and growing.
It’s not just the data centres though – those have been running on renewables since 2014 – but with hundreds of stores, offices and co-located facilities across the world, the energy taken to power the entire operation is enormous.s
Renewable Energy Projects
“We’re committed to leaving the world better than we found it.” That’s the message from Apple CEO Tim Cook that the company wants us to keep in mind when we discuss their renewable energy projects. Certainly their portfolio is more than impressive. With over 280 of solar PV added in 2017 alone, Apple now has a 25 operational projects with an aggregate total generation capacity of 626 megawatts of clean energy.
The new Apple headquarters in Cupertino features one of the biggest solar roof installations in the world, boasting a 17-megawatt output. That’s nearly 300 times more powerful than the average domestic UK installation. This, along with a microgrid and innovative biogas fuel cells, powers the entire building. When everyone switches off their computer and goes home, Apple redirects this clean energy back into the grid.
Part of the success has been based on the range and adaptability of the projects to their environments. With installations ranging from wind farms to biogas, the company has made it a priority to pursue promising new technologies as well as industry leading renewables such as solar. They’ve also been conscious to work within the given environment to maximise opportunities; in Singapore where open land is at a premium, 800 rooftops were used instead to house a vast network of energy generation, while in China they have installed solar panels raised from the ground to allow for continued vegetation growth and grazing land for local yaks.
The Future of Apple’s Renewable Energy
Apple is keen to pat itself on the back for the suppliers and manufacturers it uses that are following suit. Their recent press release outlined 9 new suppliers committed to operating on a basis of 100% renewable energy, bringing the total to 23. An additional 85 suppliers have registered for Apple’s online platform for finding local renewable energy solutions that are also commercially viable.
At the moment the entirety of Apple operations are covered by the 626 megawatt generation potential of it’s 25 renewable energy projects. However, with 15 more currently ongoing, this is set to more than double – on completion these further projects will bring the total generation of clean renewable energy up to 1.4 gigawatts. That’s a whole lot of iPods.