Energy Stories March 8, 2017

Apple has long been committed to using renewable energy for its own operations, and in 2015 extended that goal to its suppliers, starting with China. In its 2016 supplier responsibility report, the company said that its energy efficiency program had reduced carbon emissions by more than 13,800 metric tons.

Today, Apple has announced that the program has reached Japan, with component supplier Ibiden pledging to power all of its Apple manufacturing with 100 percent renewable energy …

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Energy Stories June 10, 2016

landfill-gas-plant

While solar panels and wind turbines are the two best-known methods of generating renewable energy, they aren’t the only approaches. The day after we learned that Apple has become a power company, we hear that it has just been given the go-ahead to employ a particularly cool method.

Landfill gas utilization traps the methane gas given off from landfill sites and either converts it into pipeline-grade gas or uses it to generate electricity. It’s doubly environmentally friendly, generating power from waste but also preventing the release of methane – a greenhouse gas – into the atmosphere …

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Energy Stories May 12, 2015

Greenpeace-clicking-clean-May-2015

Greenpeace today released an update to its “Clicking Clean: A Guide to Building the Green Internet” report, showing that Apple continues to lead among tech companies when it comes to renewable energy efforts. The report notes that Apple has been “most aggressive” with its renewable energy projects including a number of new initiatives and continuing to maintain “its claim of a 100% renewably powered cloud for another year.” expand full story

Energy Stories September 25, 2014

How much does it cost to charge the iPhone 6 for a year? Less than you might think

Some new numbers from the Opower blog have revealed how much you can expect to spend when charging your iPhone 6 or 6 Plus. At average U.S. energy prices, the cost comes in at a mere $.47 per year for the smaller 4.7-inch device. The 5.5-inch model will run a little extra due to its larger battery, coming in at just over half a dollar for a total of $.52 per year on average. As you might expect, this year’s larger devices will cost a little more than the smaller iPhone 5, which cost only $.41 per year.

According to the blog, adding up the energy used by each of the 10 million units sold over opening weekend would come out to less power than the entire state of Nebraska uses in 12 hours. By comparison, a typical desktop computer uses about 41x the power of an iPhone 6, while Microsoft’s Xbox One console uses has much as 61x as much energy.

As was pointed out last week, while charging your device may be fairly inexpensive, it can cost you a lot of unnecessary time if you’re using the charger that ships with it.

You can find more facts and figures about the new iPhone’s power consumption over at the Opower blog.

Energy Stories July 30, 2014

After showing more journalists around its solar-powered North Carolina data center (where it is building a third solar farm), Apple says that its new focus for renewable energy is its supply chain. The Guardian reports that the sapphire factory in Arizona forms part of this initiative.

The company is also moving to install solar and geothermal power at a plant in Mesa, Arizona that has been manufacturing sapphire glass. Apple would not directly comment on the Arizona factory but the state’s governor, Jan Brewer, has publicly praised the company’s decision to relocate there and to use solar and geothermal in manufacturing.

Apple’s VP of environmental initiatives Lisa Jackson said that the company is conscious that its supply chain cannot claim the same green credentials as Apple itself …  expand full story

Energy Stories July 14, 2014

Intelligent-Energy-fuel-cell

A report from the Daily Mail over the weekend claimed Apple is working with fuel cell company Intelligent Energy on a project that hopes to embed fuel cells in mobile devices “within a few years.” The Daily Mail doesn’t exactly have the best track record when it comes to accuracy, but the report claimed “senior sources in the US” have confirmed the partnership between the two companies. 

The technology could be rolled out in devices such as laptops and iPads, allowing them to run without being charged for days or even weeks…Intelligent Energy revealed upon floating that it bought a bundle of patents in tandem with a major ‘international electronics company’…It has kept the identity of its partner a closely-guarded secret. But a source, who has knowledge of the partnership, confirmed that Apple is the big name working with the Loughborough-based firm.

The report noted that Intelligent Energy already has ties to Apple with former Apple Computers product specialist Joe O’Sullivan sitting on the company’s board and a new office in San Jose not far from Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino.  expand full story

Energy Stories April 12, 2014

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OregonLive notes that government filings from last week show Apple has taken over a hydroelectric project near its Oregon data center. Apple has previously reported that it powers its data centers entirely on renewable energy. The hydroelectric plant in Oregon will help maintain its 100% renewable energy rating. In fact, on Apple’s environmental website, the company notes that the Prineville site will source power from hydroelectric energy in addition to wind and solar.

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Energy Stories February 25, 2014

Crowdsource update: SunSprite, the solar-powered wearable aimed at geeks

With all the focus on skin cancer caused by too much exposure to sunlight, you might expect a UV-measurement gadget to be designed to warn you when you’ve spent too long in the sun. But no, the SunSprite has the opposite goal: it’s aimed at those who spend all their time indoors, and don’t get enough time in the sun. Or, to put it more concisely, geeks.

Sunlight plays a role in both mood and sleep patterns. The SunSprite measures exposure to both visible and UV light, and uses LEDs to indicate when you’ve met your daily goal of having spent enough time outside. It also communicates with a companion iPhone app. The retail price is a rather hefty $149, but early bird Indiegogo backers can get one for $89.

A neat thing about it is the same sunlight it measures also powers the device. The low energy requirements of the SunSprite mean that just a few minutes of sunlight provide enough energy to power the gadget for a week.

With some rumors suggesting that the iWatch may incorporate solar panels, perhaps this is one more health-based sensor Apple could include?

There’s a longer video that goes into more detail below.

Energy Stories November 18, 2013

Report profiles Apple’s pioneering clean energy projects in North Carolina [photos]

GigaOM today published a lengthy piece on the state of the solar and fuel cell farm installations that Apple has been building in North Carolina in recent years.

After a visit to the 100-acre, 20 megawatt (MW) solar farm, 10MW fuel cell farm, and another 20 MW solar panel farm situated close to Apple’s North Carolina iCloud data center, the report gives a pretty in-depth look into Apple’s operations, from how its fuel cells work right down to the sheep that eat the grass on its solar farm:

The solar farm across from the data center has over 50,000 panels on 100 acres, and it took about a year to build the entire thing….Each solar panel on Apple’s farms has a microcontroller on its back, and the panels are attached to long, large trackers (the steel poles in the picture). During the day, the computers automatically and gradually tilt the solar panels so that the face of the panels follow the sun throughout the day. The above picture was taken in the late morning, so by the end of the day, the panels will have completely rotated to face where I was standing. The trackers used are single-axis trackers, which basically means they are less complex and less expensive than more precise dual-axis trackers.

You can see in the above picture that the grass is neatly maintained. Apple manages the grass under the panels in a variety of ways, but one of those is a little more unusual. Apple works with a company that ropes in sheep that eat the grass on a portion of the solar farm; when the sheep finish grazing on one spot, they’re moved to the next.

The site decided to take a look into Apple’s decision to take renewable energy into its own hands just as North Carolina utility Duke Energy is requesting that the state allow it to sell clean energy to large corporate customers. Google is one of the large companies interested in purchasing clean energy from the utility, but the hundreds of millions Apple has invested into its own renewable energy efforts have so far made it self-sufficient. The report notes Apple’s two solar farms, along with its fuel cell farm, are producing more than it needs to power its data center by around 10MW:

Apple’s second 20 MW solar panel farm, which is about 15 miles away from the data center near the town of Conover, North Carolina, is also up and running. All told, the three facilities are creating 50 MW of power, which is about 10 MW more than what Apple’s data center uses. Because of state laws, the energy is being pumped into the power grid, and Apple then uses the energy it needs from the grid. But this setup also means Apple doesn’t need large batteries, or other forms of energy storage, to keep the power going when the sun goes down and its solar panels stop producing electricity.

The full feature on GigaOM is worth checking out if you’re interested in Apple’s renewable energy projects.

Energy Stories September 13, 2013

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Update: Apple has removed the job listing from its website, but we grabbed a screenshot below.

Apple appears to be investigating the use of thin film solar technology for future mobile products with a new job listing on the company’s website looking to hire an engineer with experience in the solar industry. The thin films engineer would join Apple’s Mobile Devices group and “assist in the development and refinement of thin films technologies applicable to electronic systems.” The job listing adds some proof to rumors in recent years that Apple was evaluating the use of solar panels for future products.

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Energy Stories August 2, 2012

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Wired just published aerial shots of Apple’s data center in Maiden, N.C. from Monday, when construction crews were in the midst of laying foundation for a large structure in a northwest sylvan area, and it appears the company has just begun assembling its Bloom Energy fuel cells for biogas conversion.

According to Wired:

Our flyover captured some pretty clear images of the tactical data center, the massive solar array, and, of course, this new mystery building.

Check out some closeups of the parts below, and Wired for full gallery and details.

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Energy Stories April 17, 2012

Greenpeace says iCloud powered with ‘dirty coal energy’

Despite Apple currently constructing one of the nation’s largest solar arrays and expanding its North Carolina data centers, Greenpeace just released its “How Clean is Your Cloud” report claiming Apple, Amazon, and Microsoft “are powering their growing 21st-century clouds with dirty, 19th-century coal energy.” The organization is urging consumers to read the 50-page report and then contact the companies mentioned to convince them to change their approach when it comes to powering the cloud.

“If Apple is really interested in having the “high percentage” of renewable energy it claims to want for the iCloud, it will have to look beyond the initial steps for on-site generation and use its tremendous cash reserves to invest in or purchase renewable energy and also to put pressure on Duke Energy to to provide cleaner energy”

Apple issued a statement to various media outlets today in response (via NPR):

“Our data center in North Carolina will draw about 20 megawatts at full capacity, and we are on track to supply more than 60 percent of that power on-site from renewable sources including a solar farm and fuel cell installation which will each be the largest of their kind in the country,” said Kristin Huguet, an Apple spokesperson. “We believe this industry-leading project will make Maiden the greenest data center ever built, and it will be joined next year by our new facility in Oregon running on 100 percent renewable energy.”

Energy Stories December 7, 2011

Today’s updated Apple Headquarters Spaceship campus plans include a roof made almost entirely out of solar cells, according to details released today. With a building as large as Apple’s, that puts it in the top corporate solar installations in the world and the biggest in the US.  The current title holder is the 4.26 MW system in Edison New Jersey and another being built by ToysRus in sunny NJ is rated 5.38MW

From today’s plans

From today’s plans, we can estimate the roof surface area to be over 750,000 square feet.  Assuming (conservatively) 2/3rds of that, or 500,000 square feet of that is utilized for solar, that gives Apple close to a 5MW installation on the amin building alone. On average or as a general “rule of thumb” modern photovoltaics (PV) solar panels will produce up to 10 watts per square foot of solar panel area.  Since Cupertino is generally favorable in terms of weather and Apple will obviously use the latest Solar technology developed in the coming years, that could give Apple over 5,000,000 Watts of power to play with.  Additionally, Apple has a few other buildings on campus that could be outfitted with solar roofs. The plans list a photovoltaic roof canopy of 320,000 sq.ft. just on the parking building. expand full story

Energy Stories January 5, 2011

Interesting: it seems the first big deal component Apple may manufacture with its newly-licensed LiquidMetal alloys (beyond that SIM card remover shipped with iPhone before) isn’t the body or the antenna — it’s the battery! expand full story

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