Apple’s “green” (and very fuzzy) charging, limited to the USA (iOS 16.1)

With iOS 16.1, Apple offers a new function Green energy dedicated to charging his iPhone.

USA only

In a support note, Apple tries to clarify how it works. First of all, only the USA will be affected initially -a half-surprise, because this kind of function requires specific regional prerequisites.

With iOS 16.1, your iPhone can try to reduce your carbon footprint by selectively charging when low-carbon electricity is available.

But concretely, how does it work? Apple’s response is terse, but lacks specifics :

When Clean Energy Charging is enabled and you connect your iPhone to a charger, your iPhone gets a forecast of carbon emissions in your local power grid and uses it to charge your iPhone during times of cleaner power generation.

Clean Energy Charging is only available in the US and is enabled by default when you set up your iPhone or after updating to iOS 16.1.

From what we understand, Apple mixes local emissions information and your charging habits, to try to find the best compromise. To put it simply, if you have a fairly calm life, with a home-work load, Apple will be able to adapt – otherwise, it will disable the feature:

Clean Energy Charging works with Optimized Battery Charging to learn your charging habits. Clean Power Charging only engages where you spend the most time and regularly charge your iPhone for long periods of time, such as your home and workplace. The feature does not activate if your charging habits are variable or if you are in a new location, such as when traveling. For this reason and to get the carbon emissions forecast for your area, certain location settings must be enabled for Clean Energy Charging to activate. Your iPhone does not send any of the location information it uses for this feature to Apple.

What real impact?

Load

Note that depending on the region, it is possible -via APIs and information from your electricity supplier– to know what type of energy is consumed at a time T -renewable, nuclear, coal, oil or other…

It remains to know if this function has any usefulness on a more global level : remember that turning on an electric oven for 1 hour (3kWh) is sometimes equivalent to several annual consumptions of a single iPhone – the impact of charging a phone may not weigh very heavily on your own carbon footprintunlike that of Apple, which will no doubt be able to boast of being 100% green energy in its US user base within a few years.

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