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What Does Clean Energy Charging on iPhones Mean for the Future of Electronics?

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Jane Marsh's picture

Jane Marsh is the Editor-in-Chief of She covers topics related to climate policy, sustainability, renewable energy and more.

  • Member since 2020
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  • Mar 6, 2023

Apple’s new clean energy charging feature could give renewable energy demand a major boost. iPhone users now have the option to charge their phones specifically from local clean energy sources. Apple has long been an industry leader in tech innovations, so other manufacturers could follow Apple’s example if this feature is successful. How will it impact the next generation of electronics?

What is the Purpose of Clean Energy Charging?

Starting with iOS 16.1, Apple is offering an innovative way to charge iPhones — clean energy charging. This setting allows users’ iPhones to primarily charge when renewable energy is available in their area. Apple uses local power grid data to determine clean energy availability. When iPhone users charge specifically from clean energy, they can minimize their carbon footprint.

The big question surrounding this new feature is how useful it will actually be. After all, many users will see clean energy charging as an inconvenient delay in their usual charging habits. However, if all iPhone users take advantage of clean energy charging, it could have a big impact.

As of 2022, nearly 50% of smartphone users in the U.S. have an iPhone. While it doesn’t require much electricity to charge a smartphone, that energy adds up. If all iPhone users opted to use clean energy charging, it could save hundreds of millions of kilowatt hours of electricity each year. This could have big implications for the future of technology and clean energy alike.

One of the biggest barriers to widespread clean energy adoption today is demand for renewables. Even in 2022, an estimated 80% of U.S. energy comes from fossil fuels. However, tech companies could design their products with a default setting to only charge using renewable energy, which may help boost clean energy demand.

Consumer awareness plays a big role in this shift in demand. Many people simply don’t have visibility into where their energy comes from. However, if users could choose where the energy for their tech comes from, it could improve awareness about clean energy availability. If Apple’s innovative clean energy charging feature is effective and more tech companies begin adopting it, demand for renewable energy could increase all over the world.

How Apple Leads the Way in Tech Sustainability

Clean energy charging is the latest in a long line of industry-leading innovations at Apple that demonstrate the power the company has to spark large-scale change. Apple products have long held a high cultural value that isn’t found in other tech and devices.

For instance, iPhones are so valuable that the market for used and refurbished devices helps reduce pollution in tech landfills. Thousands of iPhones from 10 years ago are still in use today. Few other tech companies can boast such a long lifespan for their products. The longevity of iPhones is partly due to another charging innovation from Apple, optimized charging.

Apple has also spearheaded design innovations for years, with many Android phones borrowing aesthetic cues from iPhones. Apple led the way with fewer ports, bigger screens and fully wireless earbuds. They created the idea of an ecosystem of devices that all work together.

If Apple’s track record is any indication, clean energy charging could soon become a widely used feature in the tech industry. Apple will likely add the clean energy charging feature to their entire product line over the next few years, so it could make its way into the laptop and tablet space, as well. Since the feature is turned on by default, many users could help the environment without even realizing it.

Electronics and Clean Energy Charging

Apple is giving consumers the power to choose where their power comes from. If this feature has a generally positive impact among users, it will likely be adopted by other tech manufacturers. Clean energy charging as a standard feature in all next-gen electronics could have a major positive impact on the growth of renewable energy.

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Mar 6, 2023

If nothing else, I love that this can start these conversations with consumers who aren't normally plugged into what their utility can do and/or offers when it comes to opting more into clean energy

Jane Marsh's picture
Thank Jane for the Post!
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