Apple goes solar in Singapore – will Microsoft, Amazon and Google follow?

Tour around the South East of Asia to promote the use of clean energy. 1 Jul, 2002 © Greenpeace / Kate Davison

Apple has announced it will power its data center, offices and upcoming store in Singapore with 100% solar energy beginning in 2016. Singapore is a rapidly growing hub for energy hungry data centers, making Apple’s solar deal an important breakthrough, not only for fossil fuel dominated Singapore, but for the whole of Southeast Asia.

Apple will buy power from 800 distributed solar rooftops (30MW) on houses from Sunseap and install its own onsite solar power, allowing it to cover its yearly energy demand. Singapore gets 95% of its energy still from fossil fuels, and has little spare land for large scale renewable projects, so Apple’s distributed solar agreement is an innovative solution to both problems.

It’s great to see Apple aggressively pursuing large renewable energy purchasing, especially in areas where it can be challenging to source renewable energy directly, as is the case in many Asian countries. In October, Apple announced that it will be expanding renewable energy purchasing in China to cover part of the energy needs of making millions of Apple products in China.

Many Asian countries such as Taiwan, South Korea and China have electricity supplies dominated by fossil fuels, and monopoly energy companies that offer little or no options for sourcing renewable energy. Apple’s innovative solutions to this challenge show how more companies can and should do the same.

Singapore also hosts data centers from Microsoft, Google and Amazon, and as millions more internet users come on line in Asia every month, internet companies are looking to expand energy intensive infrastructure across the region. As important customers of energy utilities and prestigious projects for governments, these companies can use their influence to expand renewable energy in the region.

By matching that expansion to demand for new renewable energy, Microsoft, Google, Amazon and others can play a critical role in showing how the Asian internet expansion can be a powerful force for a better planet.

Tom Dowdall is a Climate and Energy Campaigner at Greenpeace International.

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