How Apple iPhone's 'Clean Energy Charging' Reduces Carbon Footprint By Learning From Users' Habit

Earth is growing older, and with more it's exploited for its non-renewable resources, the harder it is for the planet to heal.

For this reason, many are urging others to use "clean energy," which includes using energy that comes from Earth's renewable resources. What this means, the energy generated comes from zero-emission sources that don't pollute the atmosphere when used, and is constantly being replenished.

In other words, clean energy is a source of energy that doesn't rely on fossil fuels and gas, and include wind, geothermal, hydropower, solar energy, and others.

Clean energy can also refer to the kinds of energy that comes from efficiency measures.

Since iOS 16.1, Apple has introduced Clean Energy Charging.

What it does, according to Apple on its support page, the feature that is turned on by default, allows "your iPhone gets a forecast of the carbon emissions in your local energy grid and uses it to charge your iPhone during times of cleaner energy production."

iPhone 14 Pro clean battery charging

Also according to Apple, this feature reduces users' carbon footprint based on certain charging habits and local carbon emission forecasts.

What this means, the feature, despite being turned on by default, will only work during extended charging sessions, like overnight, and in certain repeat locations, like at home or work.

While the goal of this feature is to use cleaner sources of energy to power users' phone, the feature doesn't necessarily reduce the effectiveness or speed of charging every time a device is plugged in.

Instead, the feature works selectively, and only based on the conditions mentioned before.

In other words, if users charge their iPhone during inopportune times, the phone should charge normally, using powers the phone gains from the grid.

And when users charge their phones in the opportune time, users will be notified that the feature is on.

If ever it suspends charging, users will be notified when the device will reach 100%.

There shouldn't be any noticeable difference in how fast an iPhone charges, with or without Clean Energy Charging enabled.

Read: The '40-80 Rule' Battery Charging: Dealing With Lithium-Based Chemical Problems

But what should me noted here is that, Apple isn't deliberately punishing users for using non-renewable energy when they charge their phones.

This is because a carbon emission forecast isn't looking for clean energy sources and deciding if users' electrical grid is "bad." Instead, it only looks for an average of carbon emissions over time, and decides when the least carbon emissions are created for a given day.

What this means, the feature is tapping on cleaner energy, when it's available.

So here, when the feature is turned on, the phone is assessing peak versus non-peak electrical power usage times.

Using machine-learning algorithm, the feature waits for the time when carbon emissions are lower on average for the region, before charging the iPhone at full speed.

Initially available in the U.S., the feature accesses data collected from the millions of Apple devices to know when charging usage is at its lower points.

iPhone 14 Pro charging

To ensure Clean Energy Charging can be turned on when it's needed, users must turn on 'Clean Energy Charging', 'Location Services', System Customization', and 'Significant Locations'.

After that, Clean Energy Charging will automatically activate when:

  1. The user is in a 'Significant Location' for extended periods of time.
  2. The carbon emissions forecast tells the iPhone that heavy emissions are expected while the device is plugged in.
  3. Based on users' behavior, the iPhone will predict when it will be charged for hours.
  4. The device has time to wait for cleaner energy given when it was plugged in and when it expects to be unplugged, so it can still reach 100%.

Based on these requirements, it's only likely that Clean Energy Charging is activated at night when users are sleeping. And because the feature works alongside 'Optimized Battery Charging', the feature can ensure the battery health is preserved, while minimizing carbon emissions.

Clean Energy Charging shouldn't activate when users travel or in any new location outside of Significant Locations. And because the decision is made by AI, users' location data isn't shared with Apple.

Further reading: Low-Watt Charging Isn't Always Bad, As It Prolongs Your Phone Battery's Health