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Apple in partnership with several of its suppliers announced on Thursday a $300 million fund for investing in renewable energy projects in China. The China Clean Energy Fund aims to produce at least 1 gigawatt of energy — or enough to power about 1 million homes — through fully renewable means over the next four years.
Renewable energy has long been part of Apple's corporate DNA. As far back as a decade ago, Apple was already scoping out renewable energy sources for its North Carolina data center. The company commissioned a Bay Area solar contractor build a dedicated solar energy facility for the center, and ended up with three local solar farms and a bio-gas fuel-cell for the data center, Fast Company reported.
In April it debuted Daisy the recycling robot, which dissembles old iPhones, and announced that its global facilities across 43 countries are powered by 100 percent clean energy. More recently, the company has turned its focus toward its supply chain, working with U.S. and Canadian aluminum suppliers to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions.
"Apple’s mission has never wavered. We are here to change the world... it’s why we continuously strive to do more with less—reducing our impact on the Earth we all share, while expanding and redefining the possibilities ahead," Apple wrote in its 2018 environmental responsibility report.
The China Clean Energy Fund continues those efforts and, if successful, will serve as a model that may be replicated in other markets.
As energy demands in China have skyrocketed, the Chinese government has made a considerable push toward clean energy sources, both to help clean up air quality in China's cities and to invest in the industries of the future, according to David Sandalow, inaugural fellow at Columbia University's Center for Global Energy Policy.
"Traditionally China has relied on coal, but in the past several years renewable energy has grown dramatically and is starting to take away part of coal’s market share — and with a strong push from China’s government," Sandalow said.
Thanks to those efforts, China last year installed more solar panels than the rest of the world combined and led the world in wind and hydro-power.
China may be a receptive market for incubating renewable energy initiatives, but for smaller companies with limited resources, transitioning to clean energy can be challenging. Apple hopes the scale of the China Clean Energy Fund will give fund participants greater purchasing power to pivot toward clean energy.
The first wave of Apple suppliers participating in the fund include Catcher Technology, Compal Electronics, Corning Incorporated, Golden Arrow, Jabil, Luxshare-ICT, Pegatron, Solvay, Sunway Communication and Wistron. The China Clean Energy Fund will be managed by DWS Group, a subsidiary of Deutsche Bank.