Apple, accused by Greenpeace of using dirty technology to power its cloud, announced the server farm it's building in North Carolina will be the world's greenest, while another in Oregon will run on "100 percent renewable energy."
decided not to remain silent when Greenpeace lumped it with Amazon and
Microsoft in a mid-April "How Clean Is Your Cloud?" report that claimed
all three heavily relied on "dirty utilities"
like coal to power
their cloud-running data centers.
normally tight-lipped in the face of media hype and public criticism, issued an
uncharacteristically quick riposte to Greenpeace's PR offensive, with a
statement about the energy sources for the data centersfacilities often
referred to as "server farms"it's building in Maiden, N.C., and
data center in North Carolina will draw about 20 megawatts at full capacity,
and 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," Kristin Huguet, an
Apple spokesperson told NPR in a statement. "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."
to an April 20 report from Wired
Apple has started construction on a 10,000-square-foot facility in Oregon, but
recently also worked out a long-term agreement for a 160-acre plot outside of
the town of Prineville, Ore., where it plans to build "a much larger
facility, similar to what Facebook has already built," Jason Carr, the
town's economic development manager, told Wired.
its report Greenpeace described the data centers as "the factories of the 21st
century information age," with some consuming the energy equivalent of
180,000 homes. "Three of the largest IT companies building their business
around the cloudAmazon, Apple and Microsoftare all rapidly expanding without
adequate regard to source of electricity, and rely heavily on dirty energy to
power their clouds."
company "Scorecard," Greenpeace gave Apple a D for Energy
Transparency, an F in Infrastructure Siting and D's in both Energy Efficiency
and Renewables & Advocacy.
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," Greenpeace wrote, explaining
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," it continued. "Instead of playing catch up, Apple has the
ingenuity, on-hand cash and innovative spirit to Think Different and make
substantial improvements in the type of energy that powers its cloud."
possible that, as it has before, Greenpeace was deliberately provoking Apple.
In an asterisk under the Scorecard, it admitted it didn't actually have all the
details on Apple.
[Amazon Web Service] and Apple were provided facility power demand estimates to
review, both responded they were not correct, but neither provided alternative
estimates," Greenpeace wrote. "Using conservative calculations,
Greenpeace has used the best information available to derive power demand and
has decided to publish and invite AWS and Apple to be transparent and provide
more accurate data for their facility demands."
2004, Greenpeace launched a campaign to not just reduce electronic waste but to
get manufacturers to remove the worst toxic substances from their products. In
2006, it went after Apple directly, launching a "Green My Apple" site
that mimicked Apple's own but with a banner that read: "We love our Macs.
We just wish they came in green."
decided to bite, wrote Greenpeace's Tom Dowdall in an Oct. 6, 2011, blog
, after waking to the news of Steve Jobs' passing. While it's safe to
say Jobs wasn't a Greenpeace fan, Dowdall wrote, in 2007 he made a promise to
phase out the most hazardous substances from Apple products.
2008 Apple led the industry with the first computers virtually free of toxic
PVC and BFRs," Dowdall explained. "He clearly understood the value to
Apple of being the first. Today, all Apple products are free of these hazardous
substances and where Apple led, HP, Acer and others have followed. That alone
made Steve Jobs ultimately a valuable ally in the fight for a toxics-free
Greenpeace understands the value of nudging (needling?) Apple.
need many more leaders like Jobs at the top of global companies," wrote
Dowdall, "who have the vision, drive and personality to deliver real
solutions to the environmental challenges of today."