Marking a major boost to Apple's commitment to expand clean energy use in its operations and taking the clean energy campaign to suppliers, the iPhone maker's operations in Japan will be turning 100 percent renewable energy thanks to its Japanese supplier Ibiden.

Announcing this, Apple said Ibiden will be using 100 percent renewable energy to manufacture Apple components and has the honor of being the first partner to do so in Japan.

Apple called the move a big step forward in helping manufacturing partners toward the use of clean power.

"We're proud to partner with suppliers like Ibiden who recognize that renewable energy investments are good for the environment and good for business," said Lisa Jackson, Apple's vice president for Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives.

Apple added that it will continue to help partners across the world to reduce energy use and establish high-quality renewable energy projects like the floating solar photovoltaic facility outside Nagoya.

Unique Solar Island

Ibiden will have 20 new renewable energy facilities that are significant for managing the urban space crunch innovatively. Most innovative is a floating island of solar photovoltaic system constructed in a converted lumber yard to address the space problem. The mountainous terrain of the island constrains the availability of vast urban space in Japan for manufacturing operations.

The Apple supplier is targeting 12 MW of solar power production which will cover the company's manufacturing operations in Japan and may offer the surplus power to the national grid.

Ibiden's Response

Reciprocating the praise lavished by Apple, Ibiden's Managing Director for Environment Group Kyoichi Yamanaka noted that the investments in new and innovative clean energy are an example of the company's commitment to doing business responsibly and economically.

"Our products help Apple devices run smarter, and now we're powering our operations with smarter energy too. We're pleased to partner with Apple and lead the way in helping Japan to meet its clean energy goals," added Yamanaka.

Apple's Clean Energy Targets

Apple claims that its current operations in 23 countries and 93 percent operations worldwide are covered by renewable energy sources.

In 2015, Apple persuaded suppliers in China to make the transition to renewable energy pledge through building up solar farms and remove more than 20 million metric tons of greenhouse gases from the air.

Apple said it would assist the Chinese government in reducing air pollution in the next five years.

Apple's ambitious target involves generating over 2.5 billion kilowatt hours per year in clean energy for use in manufacturing facilities. That will be like taking away 400,000 cars off the road.

Huge Growth In U.S Solar Market

Meanwhile, the U.S. solar market grew massively and doubled its annual record by installing 14,626 megawatts of solar PV in 2016.

It marked a 95 percent increase over the previous record of 7,493 megawatts in 2015, according to GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association, which gave the highlights of the U.S. Solar Market Insight report. The report will be released on March 9.

This is the first time the U.S. solar became the no. 1 source of new power generating capacity additions: solar represented 39 percent of all new capacity additions annually among all fuel sources in 2016.

"What these numbers tell you is that the solar industry is a force to be reckoned with," said Abigail Ross Hopper, SEIA's president and CEO.

Hopper added that solar energy's strong growth in many market segments has so far employed more than 260,000 Americans.

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