If you own an iPhone, iPad, or MacBook, Apple made an announcement on Monday that should make you feel pretty great: at least some part of your Apple products will soon be built using clean, renewable solar and geothermal energy.
Apple announced on Monday that it will start building high-tech glass for its products in Arizona, at a facility that will be 100 % powered by solar and geothermal energy.
This is great news, and something new from Apple. The company had already committed to 100 % renewable energy for its facilities, including data centers, the buildings that store and shuttle all of your pictures, music and videos in the iCloud. Because of that commitment, Apple is building a solar-powered data center in Nevada, and has deployed a large solar farm and fuel cells at its data center in North Carolina. Apple, along with fellow Internet giants Facebook and Google, is pushing the utility there, Duke Energy, to offer more clean energy for their data centers in the state. As Greenpeace has noted, Apple’s leadership on this issue is crucial, since the Internet’s footprint will grow as the world’s online population is expected to grow from two to five billion in the next five years.
But another key part of the Internet’s growing environmental impact is the physical devices we use to access it every day. While you may often think about the electricity your phone uses when you plug it into the wall, building and assembling your devices require more electricity than you’ll use for all your plug-ins of the product combined – Apple examines all the energy ever used by an iPad Air, for example, and finds that 76 % of it comes from the device’s production.
Thankfully, Apple is again leading the way by expanding its commitment to clean energy to its manufacturing footprint as well. That sets an important precedent not only for the sector, but others listening in as well. In Arizona, for instance, Republican Governor Jan Brewer bucked her party’s unfortunate talking points of recent years in welcoming Apple’s clean energy announcement, proudly noting that:
“[Apple’s] investment in renewable energy will also be greening our power grid, and creating significant new solar and geothermal power sources for the state.”
That remark is a great example of how corporate leadership from companies like Apple can help drive political change.
Apple still has lots it can do to power the rest of its manufacturing and supply chain with clean energy sources, but this week’s news gives cause for hope that the company will keep acting as one of the best leaders we have in the clean energy revolution.