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5 companies that won’t use coal to power your Internet

by David Pomerantz

August 20, 2013

Solar panels at Apple's data center in Maiden, NC. Courtesy GigaOM

Solar panels at Apple’s data center in Maiden, NC. Courtesy GigaOM

The Internet’s been buzzing the last few days about an eye-catching headline: “Your iPhone uses more energy than a refrigerator.”

That comparison has generated a lot of controversy, in no small part because the study that sparked it was sponsored by the coal industry – not exactly a trusted source for reliable research.

But the study is right about one thing: The Internet is growing at a rapid clip, and it does need lots of energy. It’s also wrong about one big thing (and this part isn’t surprising, given who paid for it): That energy doesn’t have to be dirty. In fact, some of the biggest, leading Internet companies are working to power your Internet with clean energy. Here they are:

Google: Google has invested over $1 billion in clean energy. Much of that has gone to power its own data centers (as well as the rest of the grid) in places like Iowa and Oklahoma with clean energy, and Google’s also pushing its utilities, like polluter Duke Energy in North Carolina, to embrace the wind and sun too. While they’ve deservedly taken heat lately for hosting a fundraiser for a noted climate denier, Google deserves praise for its aggressive pursuit of clean energy

Apple: Apple committed in 2012 to power its data centers with 100 % clean energy, and has taken great steps since then to show that it’s serious. Apple is working with the utility in Nevada to embrace solar energy, and has built the largest privately owned solar array in the country in North Carolina to help power its data center there.

Facebook: After Greenpeace’s successful “Unfriend Coal” campaign, Facebook has taken a leadership role in committing to power your likes and shares with 100 % clean energy. Facebook’s building a clean energy powered data center in Sweden, and chose Iowa as the spot for its latest data center to take advantage of that state’s famous wind resources.

Salesforce: Salesforce is the most recent tech company to commit to power its data centers with 100 % clean energy. A staple of the business world, Salesforce committed in March, 2013 to harness its rapid growth to 100 % clean energy sources.

Rackspace: While not as much a household name as the first three companies on this list, Rackspace is a major player in the technology sector for the large amounts of data it hosts. Like the other companies on this list, it has committed to grow in a clean way, with a goal of powering its data centers with 100 % renewable energy.

Of course, there are many other companies who have yet to take a similar leadership role. Amazon – which hosts the data for Netflix, Yelp and other popular services – still powers up with coal, and is lagging behind this group of leaders, as is Microsoft.

Tell Amazon and Microsoft that you want them to join the companies who have committed to power your Internet with clean energy!

David Pomerantz

By David Pomerantz

David Pomerantz is a former Senior Climate and Energy Campaigner for Greenpeace USA, based in San Francisco. He helps lead Greenpeace's campaign for an economy powered by 100% renewable energy.

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