Apple launches US$300m clean energy fund in China

The move comes amidst a charm offensive in one of Apple’s most important market

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Apple today announced the launch of a US$300 million clean energy fund in China alongside 10 initial suppliers, continuing its charm offensive in the world’s largest consumer market.

The US technology giant said the fund, named China Clean Energy Fund, will look to develop projects over the next four years that aim to bring more than 1 gigawatt of renewable energy to China.

Apple and its 10 partners will invest in the fund, which is managed by Deustche Bank’s asset-management arm called DWS Group, which will also invest in the fund.

In recent years, Apple has been going on a charm offensive in one of the company’s most important markets. China accounts for close to 20% of Apple’s total sales, and almost all of Apple’s smartphones are assembled in the East Asian country.

Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, regularly travels to China to speak at conferences and was a co-chair at a Chinese government sponsored conference in March this year.

The company also complied with Chinese authorities’ requests to remove VPNs from the local app-store in China last July. In February this year, Apple also shifted iCloud encryption keys of China-based users to local Chinese data centres from the US in efforts to comply with Chinese laws. For a company which has long prided itself on protecting consumers’ privacy, the moves are viewed in some quarters as efforts to seek concessions from Beijing.

The China Clean Energy Fund fits not only with Apple’s sustainable drive, but also dovetails with the Chinese government’s push to renewable energy to tackle its pollution issues.

The country is the largest producer of solar and wind energy by capacity in the world. China has also pledged to ban petrol and diesel-powered vehicles in the near future while ramping up production of the officially-termed new energy vehicles, or vehicles that are partially or fully powered by electricity.

For Apple, it has long tried to reduce its carbon footprint, and announced back in April this year that all of its global operations are running on clean energy. With 25 renewable energy projections around the world, it has turned its attention on its supply-chain and announced plans with aluminum suppliers to cut greenhouse emissions.

The first 10 initial Apple suppliers are Catcher Technology, Compal Electronics, Corning Incorporated, Golden Arrow, Jabil, Luxshare-ICT, Pegatron, Solvay, Sunway Communication and Wistron. Apple said it hopes the fund model can be replicated globally to help businesses make a sustainable impact.

Editor: Elaine Huang