Apple Scores Last In Greenpeace Report On Green-Friendly Data Centers

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Apple’s done much to improve its ranking in Greenpeace’s rankings of the most green-friendly tech companies in the world thanks to radical design decisions (like switching from plastic to aluminum for its Macs) and embracing smart, minimalistic packaging. In fact, after a few years, they’d managed to crawl pretty high on the list.

Apple’s physical products remain pretty green friendly, but in a new report presented by Greenpeace, Apple ranks at the very bottom of a list of ten Internet companies whose data facilities are dirtiest. And it’s all because of their new North Carolina data super-center.

Why so low? North Carolina is a state where most of the electricity is produced by the burning off fossil fuel. On the grid in which the data center rests, less than five percent of the electricity generated is what Greenpeace would call “clean” energy. The rest of the energy is produced by coal-driven electricity plants (which are bad) and nuclear-driven plants (which are much, much maligned, especially post Fukushima).

These numbers spurred Greenpeace to rank Apple’s data center choices as the least green-friendly in their ten tech company list.They ranked the lowest clean energy index of all the companies rated, getting just a 6.7 rating compared to Yahoo’s list-topping index of 55.9%, and Google and Amazon’s rank of 36.4% and 26.8%.

To be fair, Greenpeace is advising not to make too much of these rankings, since determining the green-friendliness of IT is difficult, and ultimately, a leap into the cloud should promote — and not set-back — green-friendliness. Still, it seems at first blush as if Apple’s North Carolina data center’s dependence upon nuclear power set it back quite a bit in the rankings.

How do you feel about that? Nuclear power is a bit scary right now, for understandable reasons, but it seems strange to ding Apple for using “dirty energy” when nuclear’s actually very clean. Let us know in the comments.