Apple, Amazon and Microsoft choose dirty energy to power growing cloud

Feature story - April 17, 2012
As more people around the world use cloud computing to store and share their data on the Internet, major IT companies are resorting to dirty energy like coal and nuclear power to accommodate the demand, according to a Greenpeace rep­ort released today.


“People expect their data cloud to be powered by clean, safe energy. Yet highly innovative and profitable companies like Apple, Amazon, and Microsoft are building data centres powered by coal, assuming their customers won’t know or won’t care. They’re wrong,” said Christy Ferguson, Climate and Energy Unit Head for Greenpeace Canada.

The report, “How Clean is Your Cloud?” evaluates 14 IT companies and their electricity supply chains of over 80 data centres based on key elements needed to build a clean cloud. It shows a growing split within the tech industry between companies that are taking steps to power their clouds with clean energy, like Google, Yahoo! and Facebook, and companies like Apple, Amazon and Microsoft who lag behind by choosing to build their growing fleets of data centres using coal and nuclear energy. The report research found that if the cloud were a country, its electricity demand would currently rank 5th in the world, with some data centres using as much electricity as 250,000 European homes. This demand expected to triple by 2020.

Companies like Google, Yahoo! and Facebook are beginning to lead the sector toward a clean energy future through innovations in energy efficiency and by prioritising renewable energy access when building their data centres and demanding better energy options from utilities and government decision-makers.

“While many IT companies have made great strides in efficiency, that’s only half the picture. They need to make sure their energy comes from clean sources,” said Gary Cook, Greenpeace International Senior Policy Analyst.

Greenpeace International is calling on all IT companies with cloud services to:

  • Share innovative solutions to improve the rest of the sector;
  • Implement more transparent measures relating to their energy usage and carbon footprint;
  • Develop a siting policy that demonstrates a preference to build data centres in areas where clean energy will power the facility;
  • Invest in or directly purchase renewable energy;
  • Demand governments and electric utilities to increase the amount of renewable electricity available on the grid.

Send a quick note to the CEO'S of Microsoft, Amazon and Apple, asking them to clean up the cloud.

Download the 2012 “How Dirty is Your Data?” report