Greenpeace Sees Little Promise in Apple

Written By Brianna Panzica

Posted April 18, 2012

Apple’s (NASDAQ: AAPL) iCloud is under fire for failing to move more strongly in the direction of renewable power.

This month, Greenpeace International released a report called “How Clean is Your Cloud?” in which they rated a number of computer- and Internet-based companies on how much their data centers relied on renewable energy sources and how much on “dirty” sources.

And Apple’s scores were full of F’s and D’s.

The companies were ranked in the categories of Energy Transparency, Infrastructure Siting, Energy Efficiency and GHG Mitigation, and Renewables and Advocacy.

Apple, it appears, has done little to power its data centers with clean solutions.  It recently built a huge data center in Maiden, NC, where the two main sources of power are coal and nuclear.

Data centers use huge amounts of power for storage and Internet connections, and big companies like Apple are putting an image out there.  As Greenpeace’s Gary Cook said:

“They are very brand-conscious companies.  They want to be presenting themselves as responsible and innovative.”

Apple indeed responded to the report with announcement of its plans for two renewable energy projects, a solar array and a fuel cell set, at the North Carolina center.  Though it’s currently mostly coal and nuclear, it won’t always be.

Companies like Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) and Facebook have done significantly better.  Google prides itself on its renewable ventures, and the company was awarded the only A grade for Renewables and Advocacy.

Apple is trying to assure its customers that it’s not as bad as Greenpeace made it look.  While Greenpeace assumed the North Carolina center would consume 100 million watts, Apple subsequently released information saying at full capacity it will only consume 20 million.

The company released a statement, saying:

“We are on track to supply more than 60 percent of that power on-site from renewable sources, including a solar farm and fuel cell installation, which will each be the largest of their kind in the country.  We believe this industry leading project will make Maiden the greenest data center ever built, and it will be joined next year by our new facility in Oregon running on 100 percent renewable energy.”

Don’t count Apple out of the game just yet.  It looks like this Greenpeace report was the push the company needed to reveal the big plans that lay ahead.

That’s all for now,


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