While Apple was busy launching its new iPhone 7 and the iOS10 operating system, its subsidiary Apple Energy LLC was busy wrapping up its first deal since being granted the right to sell energy to the wholesale market just over a month ago. [Engerati-Apple to sell renewable energy]
Apple Energy has concluded a 25-year power purchase agreement with Salt River Project to purchase the energy produced from its new 50MW Bonnybrooke solar PV plant, located in Pinal County east of its data command centre in Mesa, Arizona.
SRP was part of the state team that worked with Apple to locate in the East Valley in 2014, and later built an interconnection near the facility to help facilitate the construction of the Bonnybrooke plant. Apple has completed construction and is finalizing the commissioning of the large-scale solar array, which will provide power to the data command centre.
“SRP is committed to working with our customers like Apple to meet their energy needs with the accelerated development of renewable resources, such as solar and geothermal, without increasing costs to our other customers,” said SRP general manager and CEO Mark Bonsall.
100% renewable energy supply
The terms of the PPA support new renewable energy and development in Arizona. Apple will retain all of the environmental attributes generated from the solar plant.
Indicative of Apple’s support for renewables, the company has joined the global renewable energy initiative RE100, formalizing its commitment to reaching 100% renewable energy use worldwide. In 2015, 93% of its operations around the world were powered with renewable energy, while the operations in the US, China and 21 other countries are being powered with 100% renewable energy.
Apple has also committed to driving clean energy use into the manufacturing supply chain. The company has estimated that some 77% of its emissions come from its supply chain. Among suppliers that have made similar 100% commitments are Solvay Specialty Polymers, which supplies antenna bands for the iPhone, and Catcher Technology, an aluminum enclosure supplier, both by the end of 2018.
"Apple is committed to running on 100% renewable energy, and we’re happy to stand beside other companies that are working toward the same effort,” says Lisa Jackson, Apple's vice president for Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives.
100% renewable commitments
Since it was formed in late 2014, RE100 has gained the support of 81 big name companies so far. In its 2016 report, RE100 estimated that the approximately 50 companies on board at the beginning of the year were about 50% of the way to meeting their 100% renewable electricity goals. Taking into account interim targets and end goals for reaching 100% renewable electricity, those companies are projected to reach an average of 80% by 2020.
In terms of sectors, the ICT sector is leading the way with renewable energy use. This sector has seen growing electricity use due to the growth of cloud computing and use of data centres. Companies in this sector are, on average, 64% of the way to meeting their targets.
However, of all sectors represented by RE100 companies, retail accounts for the highest electricity use at 34 million MW (in 2014) – and at over 10 million MW, the largest amount of renewable electricity purchased and generated. This is due either of the huge scale of their operations, such as Walmart, or because they own their manufacturing facilities, such as IKEA.
Most of the RE100 companies are headquartered in the US or Europe and the organization is focused on expanding support in China and India in particular where “there have been strong signals from companies … that setting sights on a 100% renewable power goal is a useful strategy.”
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