Apple boosts renewable energy footprint with world’s largest onshore wind turbines

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Earlier this year Apple announced its strategy to become carbon neutral across its entire business, manufacturing supply chain, and product life cycle by 2030. The company is already carbon neutral for its global corporate operations, and this new commitment means that by 2030, every Apple device sold will have net zero climate impact.

Apple is providing detail on its approach to carbon neutrality with a roadmap for other companies, as industries look to reduce their impact on climate change. In its 2020 Environmental Progress Report Apple details its plans to reduce emissions by 75 per cent by 2030 while developing innovative carbon removal solutions for the remaining 25 per cent of its comprehensive footprint.

An integral part of this strategy is the use of renewable energy and this ambition was bolstered recently when Apple announced it will invest in the construction of two of the world’s largest onshore wind turbines. Located near the Danish town of Esbjerg, the 200-meter-tall turbines are expected to produce 62 gigawatt hours each year and will act as a test site for powerful offshore wind turbines. The power produced at Esbjerg will support Apple’s data centre in Viborg, with all surplus energy going into the Danish grid.

“Combatting climate change demands urgent action and global partnership and the Viborg data centre is powerful proof that we can rise to this generational challenge,” Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of environment, policy, and social initiatives, says. “Investments in clean energy deliver breakthrough innovations that bring clean energy and good jobs to businesses and local communities. This is an area where we have to lead — for the sake of our planet and future generations.”

Supplier clean energy progress

Germany-based supplier Varta has committed to running its Apple production with 100 per cent renewable power. Across Europe, Apple’s suppliers are working toward clean energy solutions for their Apple productions, including Henkel and tesa SE, also based in Germany, DSM Engineering Materials based in the Netherlands, STMicroelectronics based in Switzerland, and Solvay based in Belgium. These solutions include DSM’s wind power purchase agreement in the Netherlands and STMicroelectronics’s solar carport in Morocco. Companies like Solvay are now expanding their use of renewable energy to their broader operations after joining Apple’s Supplier Clean Energy Program five years ago.

Apple launched the program in October 2015 to help suppliers reduce their energy use and transition to 100 per cent renewable electricity. Since its launch, 72 manufacturing partners in 17 different countries have committed to 100 per cent renewable energy for Apple production. Once all of Apple’s supplier projects are completed, these commitments will avoid over 14.3 million metric tons of CO2e annually, the equivalent of taking more than three million cars off the road each year.

Viborg Data Centre

Apple’s data centre in Viborg, a 45,000-square-meter facility offering network support and data storage to its users across the region, is now operational. The data centre helps power Apple’s App Store, Apple Music, iMessage, Siri, and other services in Europe that are run entirely on renewable energy from local projects.

The Esbjerg wind project follows the recent completion of one of Scandinavia’s largest solar arrays, located in Thisted, Northern Jutland, the first Danish solar project built without the use of public subsidies. The wind and solar projects both support Apple’s newly completed data centre in Viborg, which is powered by 100 per cent renewable energy. Apple is developing both projects in partnership with European Energy.

The Viborg data centre had over 600 specialist workers on site each day during construction and included many Danish businesses supporting its development. It is now run by a team of data specialists, technicians, maintenance, and security staff, many of whom were recruited from the local area.

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