Apple will power all operations in Singapore with renewables

Source: Christa Marshall, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Apple unveiled plans over the weekend to power all of its Singapore operations with renewable energy — the first project of its type in Southeast Asia and part of a broader clean energy push this year from the technology giant.

The plan was announced online by Sunseap Group, the country’s largest solar energy provider, which said the deal with Apple constituted the first time a company would power its operations with 100 percent renewable energy in the island country. Via a long-term contract beginning in January 2016, solar energy systems on more than 800 rooftops in Sunseap’s portfolio will be used to supply energy for Apple’s operations, as part of a power purchase agreement. The leased solar panels could power up to 40 gigawatt-hours of power, according to Sunseap.

“This deal will cover all of our electricity needs in Singapore, including our 2,500-person corporate campus and new retail store. We’re thrilled to be working with Sunseap and the government of Singapore to pioneer new ways to bring solar energy to the country — and bring Apple even closer to our goal of powering our facilities around the world with 100% renewable energy,” said Lisa Jackson, former U.S. EPA administrator and Apple’s vice president of environment, policy and social initiatives, in a statement. The retail store will be the first in the country for the maker of iPhones and iPads.

The move comes on the heels of Apple’s announcement last month that it would slash the carbon footprint of its manufacturing operations in China by building more than 200 megawatts of solar projects in the northern, eastern and southern parts of the country and by pushing its manufacturing partners to “become more energy efficient” (EnergyWire, Oct. 23). Apple said then it would partner with Chinese suppliers to install more than 2 gigawatts of clean energy in coming years.

The company has faced mixed reviews for the energy and labor requirements of its supply chain generally.

The group China Labor Watch, for one, said in a report last month that conditions at a Shanghai-based iPhone factory stand in “stark contrast to Apple’s ethical commitments,” as the group claimed workers were putting in extensive hours without pay and did not receive adequate safety training.

However, Greenpeace said in a May analysis that all three of Apple’s data center expansions announced in the past year will be powered with renewable energy and that the company is having a “positive impact” in pushing partners to adopt renewables.