Apple Defends iCloud Against Greenpeace Attack

Environmental organisation blames Apple for using “dirty” energy

Apple made public information about its data centre energy consumption today after a damning report by Greenpeace. The report rated Apple among the worst cloud computing companies, judging by their energy consumption.

Greenpeace accused Apple of contributing to the carbon pollution by using coal energy to power its North Carolina data centre, which supports the iCloud service.

How green can you go

In a report rating 14 cloud computing companies, Greenpeace gave failing grades to Apple, Amazon and Microsoft for their reliance on non-renewable energy sources. At the same time, the organisation gave bonus points to Yahoo and Google for pursuing “clean” sources of energy for their data centres.

Apple’s Maiden, North Carolina facility is located, gets 61 percent of its energy from coal and 31 percent from nuclear power, according to Greenpeace. Last year, when Apple announced it would build the iCloud data centre in the state, Greenpeace accused the company of “lack of a corporate commitment to clean energy supply”.

However, Apple claimed its new iCloud data centre in Maiden would be the greenest ever built. It accused Greenpeace of twisting the facts, saying it will only use a fifth of the energy estimated in the report. In addition, the facility would eventually draw 60 percent of its power from renewable sources, including a 20 MW solar array.

The data centre in Maiden occupies 500,000 square feet. Apple has already spent $1 billionon the facility, and reportedly plans to spend billions more in 2012. It is building a solar farm and a fuel cell installation on the grounds, in an effort to placate environmental organisations.

The report argues that for all their focus on innovation, many tech companies are profoundly conventional when it comes to making decisions about energy needs. “Most IT companies are currently choosing to buy their electricity off the rack, at the lowest possible price, with the focus on its quantity, not its quality,” it said.

A different Apple facility in Oregon will be located next door to the Facebook data centre that suffered through a long campaign by Greenpeace aimed at making it “unfriend” dirty coal energy.

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