Green push: Apple enters rooftop solar JV to power its India operations

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Tech giant Apple on Wednesday announced its collaboration with Mumbai-based solar energy solutions provider, CleanMax, to invest in six rooftop solar projects in India. However, it did not specify the capital outlay for the projects.

According to the company, these projects will generate a combined output of 14.4 megawatts (MW), and will be used to power Apple’s offices and stores, as well as “other” domestic operations.

While the CleanMax joint venture is relatively smaller compared to Apple’s partnerships in the US and Spain, where it is estimated to produce 132MW and 105MW of solar energy, respectively, by the end of 2024, the move underscores its commitment to transition to clean-energy sources.

In July 2020, the company had claimed to have achieved carbon-neutrality in global corporate operations, besides setting an ambitious target of making its entire carbon footprint net-zero by 2030. The solar investments in India reflect its commitment to a greener future, the company said.

“As a renewable project developer, we will be responsible for the development, operations and maintenance of the six solar projects. Besides, the management of the JV will be taken care by CleanMax for the lifetime of the projects, which will help decarbonize Apple’s operations in India,” a CleanMax spokesperson said in response to Mint’s queries.

“The joint venture entails environmental benefits accruing from the financed projects throughout the project life to assist Apple in addressing the emissions associated with its corporate operations in India,” he added.

According to Apple, nearly 95% of its direct product manufacturing suppliers use 16.5 gigawatt (GW) of renewable energy, helping the brand avoid 18.5 metric tonnes (MT) of carbon emissions globally.

Smartphone manufacturing, Apple’s biggest revenue source, contributes over 80% of carbon emissions through the entire lifecycle, including production, usage, marketing, packaging, and shipping.

However, Apple’s claims came under scrutiny following an independent third-party report by Beijing-based environmental research non-profit, the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs (IPE), in September.

According to the report, Apple claimed that 250 (now 300) of its suppliers had committed to using 100% clean energy in all processes. However, “most of the suppliers listed in Apple’s 2023 Environmental Progress Report as having committed to using 100% clean electricity to manufacture Apple products have not yet publicly disclosed their renewable energy use, clean electricity usage percentage, or greenhouse gas emissions data to the public,” it said.

“Some corporate-level data that has been disclosed shows that the amount of renewable energy used is quite limited compared to the total electricity consumption, and cannot be attributed to specific manufacturing facilities,” the report added.

The observations cast aspersions about Apple’s clean energy claims, especially with its latest product, the Apple Watch Series 9, which is touted by the company as carbon neutral.

Apple also said that it would investment in fresh water replenishment in Telangana and Maharashtra, but did not elaborate further.

Most tech firms, including Samsung and Xiaomi, have set net-zero goals at the group level. In December, Xiaomi Corp. announced its plans to achieve carbon neutrality for all existing businesses by 2040. Apple, however, has been most vocal with its green energy initiatives.

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Pooja Gupta

CA Pooja Gupta (CA, ISA, having 15 years of experience. Educator and Digital Creator

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CA Pooja Gupta (CA, ISA, having 15 years of experience. Educator and Digital Creator

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