Apple becomes the first technology company to take on the top spot in the annual survey of solar energy usage in business. More precisely, the company has the greatest amount of solar energy capacity in the US, according to a new report from the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). The organization has been explaining the use of solar for the last seven years and claims that never before has a technology firm come first.
Last year, Apple installed 400 megawatts of solar capacity to lead all companies in the U.S. Surprisingly four of the top 10 corporate solar users in the U.S. were tech companies. Amazon was on the no 2 positions of the Solar Energy Industry Association’s list of companies tapping solar energy to power their businesses. The data center company Switch and search giant Google a subsidiary of Alphabet came in as the fifth and sixth companies.
Last year, Amazon was in the first position is speaking strictly about solar energy usage because of its AWS business. Amazon has a total solar energy-generating capacity of 329.8MW and third-place company, Target, has 242.4MW. In 2018, Apple announced that its entire global operation is powered by 100% renewable energy sources, it specifically gained the top spot for solar because of what SEIA describes as “a 130MW off-site project that came online in California.”
The report does not clarify which project, but it most likely to be the South Monterey installation from which Apple bought 130 MW to provide power to Apple Park. On-site, installations are the ones such as Apple park which feature solar panels on the building itself, whereas off-site ones are separate solar-collecting facilities such as the company’s energy farm projects in Illinois and Virginia.
When ranked only by on-site installations of solar energy, SEIA put Apple in the fourth position, behind Target, Walmart and Prologis. Apple doesn’t even appear in the top 25 when ranked by the number of solar installations, which is dominated by retailers who have many buildings across the country. SEIA organization also notes that solar power has surged in the U.S. over the past several years. More than 50% of the total capacity in North America has been installed since 2016.
Apple has turned the corner of sustainability during that time, one time the company has been so close to sworn enemies with Greenpeace, Apple is now frequently lauded for its focus on green energy. Much of this happened under the leadership of Tim Cook. He has also talked about how Apple should aim to be a “force for good” in the world. Apple hasn’t commented on the report yet, although SEIA will be presenting the company with an award during a Solar Goes Corporate ceremony on November 7, 2019.