Greenpeace: Apple’s Clean Energy Plans Are “Mostly Talk And Not Enough Walk”

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Apple still has a way to go before it call itself
Apple still has a way to go before it call itself "coal-free."

Environmental activist group Greenpeace called out Apple’s reliance on coal power for fueling its iCloud data centers back in April. Apple responded by saying that all of its data centers will eventually be powered by 100% clean, renewable energy. Greenpeace was happy about Apple’s bold stance on the issue, saying that it was a “great sign that Apple is taking seriously the hundreds of thousands of its customers who have asked for an iCloud powered by clean energy, not dirty coal.”

Now Greenpeace is saying that Apple’s plans to make its data centers truly coal-free “are still far from complete.” While Apple’s energy footprint has become significantly cleaner in recent months, the Cupertino-based company has yet to offer a viable plan for fully eliminating its use of coal, according to Greenpeace.

“Apple has the potential to set a new bar with its coal-free iCloud commitment, but its plans to reach this goal are still mostly talk and not enough walk,” said Greenpeace International Senior IT Analyst Gary Cook. “Apple got a lot of kudos and positive attention for its clean energy commitments in May, but it now must explain to its customers how it plans to fully eliminate its dirty energy sources, and should extend that policy to new data centers as its iCloud expands.”

Apple’s clean energy score has improved to 22.6% from 15.3% since Greenpeace’s original investigation. However, Apple is still graded as having a D in Greenpeace’s “Energy Transparency” and “Infrastructure Siting” categories. Apple’s score has improved from a D to C in the “Renewables and Advocacy” and “Energy Efficiency and Greenhouse Gas Mitigation” categories.

According to Greenpeace, Apple still uses 33.5% coal energy to power its iCloud. It’s important to note that Apple was using 55.1% coal energy in April 2012. That’s a pretty big drop in only a few months. The company’s nuclear energy footprint has also gone down to 11.6% from 27.8% in April.

Apple’s upcoming data center in North Carolina is an area of concern for Greenpeace. According to Apple, the data center will be powered by 60% fuel cell and solar energy, while the remaining 40% will be provided by the area’s energy provider, Duke Energy. The problem is that Duke Energy relies heavily on coal.

“Apple, as a client of Duke Energy, is an accomplice to the health emergency caused by mountain top removal mining in Appalachia,” said Mickey McCoy, a mountaintop removal activist in Kentucky. “If Apple wants to be part of a clean energy future, it should demand that Duke abandon coal from mountaintop removal that is killing people and destroying communities in central Appalachia.”

Hopefully Apple will be able to use its buying power to push Duke Energy away from coal and further towards, clean, renewable energy.

Greenpeace has put together a plan that outlines “additional steps Apple should take to fulfill its laudable ambition to set a new bar with a “coal-free” and 100% renewably-powered iCloud.” You can read the full report on the Greenpeace website.

Image: ThomasNet News