Apple has been increasingly interested in powering its operations with that happy old sun, working on a 20-megawatt solar farm coupled with a 5-megawatt fuel cell facility at its data supercenter in Maiden, North Carolina. But that’s not nearly good enough, according to Greenpeace. In fact, the environmental activist group has gone so far as to call Apple out for using “asthma-inducing, climate-destroying coal” which makes the iCloud “the dirtiest thing on the internet.”
What’s the problem? According to Greenpeace, the Maiden, North Carolina green energy facilities cover only 10% of the data supercenter’s power needs. The rest of that 90% comes from the local power grid, which is one of the dirties in the country, and uses mostly coal power:
To deliver iCloud services, Apple has dramatically expanded its data center infrastructure. It has invested at least $1bn in an “iDataCenter” in North Carolina, one of the world’s largest data centers, and just announced another facility to be built in Prineville, Oregon. Unfortunately, both of these investments are powered by utilities that rely mostly on coal power. Given the lack of transparency, siting policy or a clear commitment to power the iCloud with renewable energy, Apple is finding itself behind other companies such as Facebook and Google who are angling to control a bigger piece of the cloud.
Apple is not alone in being criticized by Greenpeace in this way. Amazon and Microsoft are also taken to task by the environmental group for their dirty clouds. Google and Facebook, however, get high marks for prioritizing renewable energy over burning a hunk of carbon dug up from the bowels of the earth.
You can read Greenpeace’s full report “How Clean Is Your Cloud?” here.
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