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Apple’s new data center reliant on dirty energy

Apple’s new data center reliant on dirty energy

The Guardian reported today on a Greenpeace report entitled “How Dirty is Your Data” which examines energy sources being used to power the data centers of some of the largest IT brands:

Of the 10 brands graded, Akamai, a global content distribution network, earned top-of-the-class recognition for transparency;

Yahoo! had the strongest infrastructure siting policy; Google & IBM demonstrated the most comprehensive overall approach to reduce its carbon footprint to date.

Unfortunately, Apple does not fare so well in the report. Apple is currently building one of the largest data centers in the world in Maiden, North Carolina – a popular site for data centers due to low cost power and tax incentives, but Greenpeace cite the data centers in North Carolina as having the dirtiest generation mixes in the US with a mix of 61.5% Coal, 30.8% Nuclear – to give some perspective on these figures, Oregon is reliant on only 8% Coal.

Greenpeace criticise Apple’s corporate commitment to clean energy saying that cheap energy is clearly their priority regardless of the source.

Apple have claimed in the past they will use renewable energy wherever it can be found, but Greenpeace point out that a specific target has not been announced, and the new data center could potentially triple Apple’s current total reported electricity use, which would significantly impact their current overall environmental footprint.

Greenpeace do mention that Apple have become more transparent about their environmental footprint when it comes to products, but are still not forthcoming with information when it comes to cloud computing.

The lack of transparency from the IT sector as a whole when it comes to data center energy consumption is criticised – as a result some of the figures cited regarding consumption are estimated based on available figures. Some of the figures have been rejected by the companies in the report, but no corrected figures were offered.

The report outlines some of the clean energy sources available currently and cites some companies who are currently using renewable energy in their data centers.

Apple received an F in the report for their infrastructure siting, where Yahoo! received a B – a Yahoo! spokesperson said “Where power comes from is a key part of the sustainability equation, when considering power companies for our data centers, we ask for their fuel mix, their carbon intensity, and how they plan to increase their renewable energy mix and reduce their dependence on fossil fuel in the future.”

Apple have declined to comment on the report.

Via Tom Raftery on Twitter
Images thanks to Sakucae and Timitrius