Apple has recognised the fact that China is not only the world’s largest smartphone market, but also the world’s largest renewable energy market, and now plans to set up solar power projects in the Asian country.
Apple has entered into an agreement with SunPower to set up 2 solar PV power projects with a cumulative capacity of 40 MW in the Sichuan province of China. The American consumer electronics giant has signed the agreement with Sichuan Shengtian New Energy Development, SunPower’s project development arm. Conversely, SunPower sees this Apple deal as the first in a long line of Chinese deals, leading the company’s CEO, Tom Werner, to comment that China will be the company’s “fastest-growing region in the next five years”.
The projects are expected to be commissioned before the end of this year and will generate 80 million kilowatt-hours of electricity every year. Apple uses electricity from renewable energy projects in the United States to power its data centers; however, Apple has no data centres in China, nor has it announced plans to set up any in the near future.
It is not immediately clear how the electricity generated from the projects would be sold or used. Foxconn, the primary contractor manufacturer for Apple, had announced plans to set up manufacturing facilities in the city of Chengdu, Sichuan. But Apple’s sustainability efforts are not restricted to just increased use of renewable energy. The company has taken several initiatives to reduce its carbon emissions, as well as increasing its use of paper and cardboard produced from sustainably managed forests. Apple has also partnered with The Conservation Fund to buy more than 36,000 acres of forests in Maine and North Carolina.
Apple recently reported a marginal increase in the total greenhouse gas emissions, attributing the increase to the increased production and sales.