Clean energy charging is not a conspiracy to reduce the speed or efficiency of charging when you plug in your iPhone. It is a harbinger of how most future electronics will consume power.
What is clean energy charging?
Announced with iOS 16 and introduced in the US last fall, Clean Energy Charging selectively charges your device when electricity with lower carbon emissions is available. In some regions this may be during the day when solar and renewable energy production peaks, but in most cases it will be at night.
To support the feature, your iPhone gets a forecast of CO2 emissions on your local energy grid. It then charges the device when the cleanest energy is available.
The effect is that demand decreases at peak times and usage increases renewable energy when it is available, or demand is low. It matters because 22% of Apple’s gross carbon footprint is generated by charging the device.
What will happen with Clean Energy Charging?
When your iPhone is connected to power, it will charge. When enabled, Clean Energy Charging can suspend charging until the cleanest energy is available. When it does, it will share a notification on the lock screen letting you know what’s happening and when to expect your device to be fully charged.
If you want to fill it with energy faster, touch and hold that notification and tap Recharge now when it appears. You can also disable the function, but an iPhone user can in any case choose to follow the advice of Clean Energy Charging, which means that energy with lower CO2 emissions is used.
It ensures a conscious choice about how you want to act as a consumer.
This is how Clean Energy Charging works
This is how it works:
- Clean Energy Charging is only available in the US, where it’s enabled by default on your iPhone after updating to iOS 16.1.
- You can turn it off in Settings>Battery>Battery health and charging, where you’ll find a switch for clean energy charging.
- The feature works best with Optimized Battery Charging as it learns your charging habits to the extent that the cleaner energy component is only activated at times and places when you usually charge your iPhone. For example, if you usually charge your device overnight, the actual charging will occur at the optimal time for clean energy.
- In addition to enabling Clean Energy Charging, you must also enable three specific privacy and security settings on your device: Location Services and System Services > System Customization along with System Services > Significant Locations.
- You can also override or disable the feature altogether using the Clean Energy Charging switch in Battery Health (above).
Charging clean energy does not take over your device. It inherently gives you choice; the difference is that your choice is informed.
- Direct charging? You can.
- Happy to wait for a greener choice? That’s an option.
- Do you want the world to benefit from an informed choice? Doing.
Clean Energy Charging is smart enough to see when you’re in a new location, traveling or if the times you charge your device are variable. If it detects any of these, it shuts itself down.
Why do we need to manage our energy?
This is according to the latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). global emissions continue to rise at unprecedented levelsbut climate change is not the only reason for better energy management.
If you’ve checked your utility bill in recent months, you know that prices are rising. In some countries, these increases are causing considerable pain, with households having to choose between warming up and eating. In addition to rising costs, countries worldwide are trying to move away from energy production based on coal, gas or oil embrace carbon neutral electricity productionlargely including wind and solar power, sometimes supplemented by nuclear power.
In part, this shift is to Reduce CO2 emissionsin part it is a response to the rising costs of fossil fuels as available supplies dwindle, and of course, in the context of the war in Ukraine, it helps countries exposed to national energy supply problems due to failing relationships with coal, oil or gas suppliers.
They appear to be there vested interests opposed to such changesbut energy independence is a critical strategic goal to secure future supplies.
However, as the number of electronic devices continues to grow and energy consumption increases, we will need more energy, which is why in most countries additional renewable energy sources are used.
There are other considerations. Take air conditioning and data centers, for example. Global energy demand to download powertrain cooling systems is expected to triple by 2050. Demand is driven by rising global temperatures and economic development. This is complemented by the need to cool the data centers we rely on. The EU commission estimated that data centers would be responsible by 2020 3.2% of total European energy demand by 2030, but it doesn’t stop there. As emerging economies digitize and emerging economies grow, that demand will increase globally.
Rising costs, increasing demand and the need to meet climate change targets essentially mean making more efficient use of the energy we have while ensuring the rapid adoption of carbon neutral energy production. Considerations such as national security, energy infrastructure, making energy affordable, increasing demand are all important reasons why energy security depends on better decisions.
About those better decisions
Part of Apple’s approach is to create electronic devices that require less energy to operate. Apple understands that with more than a billion devices in use today, every watt of energy use that is transitioned to carbon-neutral power makes a difference. The company is already carbon neutral in all its business activities and aims to achieve the same goal in both production and product life cycle.
This is evidenced by the “Green Slide” Apple shares with each product launch and is part of the company’s mission to be carbon neutral by 2030. Apple shares this work in its annual environmental report. Apple Vice President Lisa Jackson recently said the next report will appear mid-April. “There will be good news there,” she said. Clean Energy Charging is part of its effort to reduce energy consumption.
Intrinsically, the feature is about behavioral change — in this case, an effort to empower increasingly environmentally conscious consumers to make informed choices about what they do.
Think of it as similar to how the Activity app on an Apple Watch helps motivate people to stay active for better personal health. Just like Activity does, Clean Energy Charging should help some users get cleaner energy.
Clean energy Charging is the future
Speak against Washington PostMary Ann Piette, a senior scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory who works on ways to better manage and reduce energy consumption, said, “We are moving into a time where devices listen to grid signals every hour of the year and become intelligent enough to move their cargo to the cleanest and cheapest times,” says Piette. “That’s the future.”
Clean Energy Charging is an idea in what will become a forest of new approaches to help optimize energy use make better choices about the offer.
Apple is not the only one working to make its company/devices smart, not just in terms of How a lot of energy they use, but also when they use it. LG refrigerators can already optimize energy consumption. Infosys recently claimed that 73% of global companies see the energy transition as happening one of their top three organizational priorities.
Apple may be a pioneer, but it’s worth noting that if all 118 million iPhone users in the US use the feature, it will have the same positive impact on carbon emissions as taking 85,000 cars off the road, according to EPA data cited here.
It is your choice. But I suggest you leave Clean Energy Charging enabled. You can always overwrite it if you’re in a bit of a hurry.
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