Greenpeace creates Green Amazon Web Services since Amazon hasnt yet

by David Pomerantz

December 3, 2012

When most people think of, they think of e-books or online shopping. But Amazon is also responsible for storing and delivering the data behind a massive portion of the Internet via its Amazon Web Services (AWS) business, including Netflix, Pinterest, Spotify, and Smugmug. Amazon wont say exactly how many servers it has keeping the Internet humming, but a recent study estimated thatone third of all daily internet users will access an Amazon AWS cloud site on average at least once a day.

Unfortunately, much of the massive AWS cloud is powered by dirty sources of energy like coal, which is why Greenpeace has asked AWS to follow other leading Internet companies, like Google and Facebook, to switch from dirty to clean energy.

Since AWS has failed to seize this opportunity, Greenpeace launched a hoax Green AWS website last week at re:Invent, Amazons biggest conference for its customers, in Las Vegas.

Throughout the conference Greenpeace set up a wireless network to divert conference attendees attention, a web site that declared that AWS would be rolling out cloud options powered by renewable energy, and that customers could sign up there to host their data in a special pilot edition of the program. If only.

So far,Amazon has ignoredthe growing movement toward providing a cloud powered by renewable energy that movement includes some of its biggest competitors, as well as its customers.

Unlike competitors Google, Microsoft and Rackspace, Amazon will not even tell its customers how much energy it is using or what its sources are.

According toGreenpeace Internationals analysis(see page 4 of that report) of major cloud companies energy supply, the AWS cloud gets only 13.5% of its electricity supply from renewable sources overall. For those AWS customers who rely on AWSs US East Region in Virginia, which is estimated to hold 70% of the servers in the AWS cloud, the picture is far worse; more than 75% of the electricity supply in that region comes from coal and nuclear power, including coal that comes from highly destructivemountaintop removal mining. Only 4% of energy there comes from renewable sources.

Here is how AWS stacks up against other leading cloud companies:

Energy Transparency? Claimed Renewable Energy Commitment Clean Energy Index Dirty Energy %
AWS No None 14% 57%
Google Yes Carbon Neutral, $1B invested in renewable energy 40% 44%
Facebook Yes Renewable powered Facebook 38% 48%
Rackspace Yes Factors renewable energy in data center investments 32% 51%
Apple Yes 100% renewable energy & coal-free iCloud 23% 45%
Microsoft Yes Carbon Neutral 22% 57%

AWS competitors like Google and Rackspace are already making the switch to clean energy. Google has invested almost one billion dollars in renewable energy, and isincreasingly powering its data centers with renewable energylike wind power.

Amazon could make the same bold moves, but the companys leadership seems intent on continuing to use 19thcentury energy to power its amazing 21stcentury cloud. Amazons customers deserve to store their data in a cloud thats powered by clean energy, and if Amazon does not want to provide that, those customers may want to start looking at other, cleaner options out there.

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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