Greenpeace just named Apple the least green company on its list of tech firms because of its reliance on dirty coal to power the company’s data centers. Greenpeace’s report, “How Dirty Is Your Data?,” shows that Apple’s investment in a new data center in North Carolina will triple its electricity consumption, which is the same amount of electricity used by 80,000 U.S. homes. Sixty-two percent of the new data center’s energy will be supplied by coal, with 32% supplied by nuclear power.
Overall, Greenpeace’s report estimates that Apple relies on coal for 54.5% of its data center energy needs, but that’s not much more than Facebook’s 53.2%. The greenest tech companies listed in the report are Yahoo!, Google, and Amazon. Jonathan Koomey, a project scientist for the End-Use Forecasting Group at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, whose work was cited in the study, defended the IT industry against criticism: “The use of IT often reduces environmental impacts. When we compared greenhouse gas emissions for downloading music to buying it on a CD, for example, we found downloads reduced emissions 40-80%.”
What do you think of this report? Do the large data centers required for cloud computing help or harm the environment?
Photos © Yutaka Tsutano