Greenpeace Takes on Apple and Other Tech Companies over Coal-Powered Data Centers

Discussion in ' News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Apr 17, 2012.

  1. macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    Activist group Greenpeace today issued a new report entitled How Clean is Your Cloud?, targeting major Internet companies including Apple, Amazon, and Microsoft over their heavy use of coal-derived power for their massive data centers.
    The study covers 14 Internet companies, but singles out Apple, Amazon, and Microsoft as the biggest offenders. According to Greenpeace's data, Apple is the only one of the 14 companies to derive more than half of its data center power (55%) from coal. Apple also ranks third in the share of its power needs coming from nuclear sources.


    Greenpeace acknowledges Apple's work to build a 20-megawatt solar farm and 5-megawatt fuel cell facility at its new data center in Maiden, North Carolina, but downplays their significance by claiming that the facilities will cover only 10% of the site's power needs. Greenpeace specifically takes Apple to task for its decision to locate its data center in North Carolina, which reportedly maintains one of the dirtiest power grids in the country. In particular, Duke Energy is continuing to invest in coal and nuclear power options while investing "very little" in renewable energy. A similar situation exists in Prineville, Oregon, where Apple has announced plans for another data center.
    Apple maintains a significant environmental section of its website, including disclosures on its Maiden data center, which the company believes is the only data center of its size to achieve a LEED Platinum rating from the U.S. Green Building Council. But while Greenpeace gives Apple some credit for its steps, the organization continues to give Apple poor marks for a lack of complete transparency about its data center power demands and publicly-available policies regarding the energy considerations for its projects.

    While Apple, Amazon, and Microsoft take the brunt of Greenpeace's criticism, Yahoo and Google receive high marks for their policies prioritizing renewable energy in their projects and for promoting policies to increase investment in renewable energy. Facebook also receives high marks for its recent commitment to renewable energy, including its latest data center in Sweden that can be powered with 100% renewable energy.

    Update: In a statement issued to The New York Times, Apple discloses for the first time that the current data center in Maiden, North Carolina consumes roughly 20 megawatts of power, meaning that the 25 megawatts of power planned for the solar farm and fuel cell facility at that location should be sufficient for at least this phase of the project. Apple's long-term plans include eventually doubling the size of the data center with a second building, and it seems unlikely that the 20-megawatt number includes those plans.
    Update 2: Greenpeace has responded with a blog post questioning Apple's statements about energy usage at the Maiden data center.
    Article Link: Greenpeace Takes on Apple and Other Tech Companies over Coal-Powered Data Centers
  2. Moderator


    Staff Member

    Sep 8, 2010
    Detroit, Michigan
    So what.... were they supposed to either build their own nuclear power plants or build a state-sized solar farm to power those data centers? :confused: :rolleyes:
  3. macrumors 603


    Oct 13, 2008
    Everywhere And Nowhere
  4. macrumors 65816


    Jan 23, 2002
    Yokosuka, Japan
    I thought the world was done caring about these nut jobs and their moronic "studies". Guess not...
  5. macrumors G5


    Jun 27, 2007
    Perhaps they don't understand Apple's data center will have:
    - largest solar panel installment
    - largest fuel cell installment
  6. macrumors regular


    Dec 11, 2008
    Under a Rug
    Apple does what it can to be energy efficient as do most publicly watched companies. they need the juice to provide the services that also provide jobs. it is not their decision how the local community produces that energy.
  7. macrumors 65816


    Sep 20, 2008
    Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
    We all should live in the stone age. :rolleyes:

    Apple is doing their best to add environmental-friendly equipment to their data centers. What?
  8. NAG
    macrumors 68030


    Aug 6, 2003
    Why won't Greenpeace tell me how to see what color my electrons are?! I'm electron colorblind! The horror! Won't someone tell me which electrons are green?!
  9. macrumors 6502a


    Jan 12, 2006
    And if Greenpeace actually mattered at all, this would mean something.... :rolleyes:
  10. macrumors 601

    Jun 19, 2007
    Plymouth, MN
    Read the OP, Greenpeace acknowledged it but is obvioulsy downplaying it since they say it only covers 10% of the energy needs.
  11. macrumors regular


    Aug 6, 2007
    Nothing produces clouds as good as the old coal technology!
  12. macrumors newbie

    Sep 2, 2008
    What about Whale Blubber?

    Apple could build gigantic salt water ponds, and fill them with whales... the Whales could be fed a diet of krill fed from organically raised soy and magic... We could populate these lakes with Humpback whales and harvest them for oil to run the iCloud, then we could seal the whole thing in a corn-based plastic dome to ensure that there was zero impact on the surrounding area.

    Or we could consider the decreased environmental impact of data centers in a variety of other ways, such as decreasing the need for onsite hardware by up to 95% percent.
  13. macrumors 65816


    Mar 22, 2010
    London, UK
    Also data centres never run all the server at all times. Companies that have data centres already try to cut on electricity costs as much they can. The argument is moot.
  14. macrumors regular


    Jan 21, 2011
    Helsinki, Finland
  15. macrumors member

    Apr 7, 2012
    ...and large data centers are more power efficient than a bunch of small data centers.
  16. macrumors 6502

    Mar 31, 2004
    Washington, DC
    I'm not a huge fan of Greenpeace (I'm really an Environmental Defense supporter more than anything else), but they have something of a point here. I think it's absurd that Apple located the data center in NC. Despite being LEED, locating in a warm climate dramatically increases cooling costs. Many companies are now looking to locate data centers in the Northeast (specifically upstate NY) because the cooler climate dramatically reduces energy consumption. I'd have a hard time believing that this is offset by the better solar climate in NC. You'd see a much better power mix in the NE also, but that's really a secondary benefit.

    The Oregon location I find much less fault with, as there's a much more temperate climate there than NC. Besides, with Apple's size they can probably cut deals and buy renewable power wholesale from a generator and just pay the utility for transmission. There's a ton of hydro and an increasing amount of wind in the OR/WA area.
  17. macrumors regular

    Apr 13, 2010
    Apple should store its data in Iceland. 100% renewable green energy and a big fat data link to the US.
  18. Guest

    Jan 19, 2002
    Never happy

    Even after Apple switches to 100% green energy to power their sites Greenpeace will still fault Apple and complain that the manufacturing process of green energy equipment and technologies aren't using 100% green energy.

    How can anyone take this organization seriously anymore? Are companies supposed to switch overnight? Green resources aren't economical, or efficient enough yet to be viable to completely replace carbon based resources.

    They've become nothing more than attention mongering media hacks.
  19. macrumors regular

    Jul 22, 2002
    New York City
    I'm all for cleaning up the the environment but if they're complaining about apple after they showed off their solar plans then they are pretty dumb

    Also i'm tired of greenpeace complaining about nuclear energy. if he hadn't been so scared of nuclear energy in the 70s and 80s we'd wouldn't even have this global warming problem.
  20. macrumors member

    Apr 28, 2009
    Metropolis, IL
    People should know that these windmills never pay for theirselves, ever. Also, for every Megawatt produced by wind and solar it has to be backed by either coal or nuclear. Alternative energy is not that reliable. How many times have you driven by a wind farm with hundreds of windmills and only seen 15 or 20 operating? In North Antelope Rochelle mine in Wyoming they have approx 250 years of coal left in this area at the same rate that they are pumping it out today. Coal is here to stay. There are huge advancement in scrubbers to reduce toxins released. Over the next 4 to 5 years over 21,000 Megawatts are being shut down across the US as a result from the EPA's regulations that have been set forth. Thousands of jobs will be lost. I was at a power plant the other day and 90 people were laid off because of the repercussions from the regulations. People will start bitching when they lose power everyday and their bills double. Coal is not as bad as the public is led to believe.
  21. macrumors regular

    Jun 23, 2003
    Newport, TN
    Makes me wonder...What OS these activist use? :D:p
  22. macrumors member


    Jan 15, 2009
    UK, Wickford.
    The Rolling Stones - Get Off of My Cloud (1967):apple::apple::apple:
  23. macrumors 6502

    Mar 10, 2012
    I just had some whale "bacon" in Japan a couple weeks ago. Mmmm. Tasty.

    One wonders if these aging hippies at greenpeace have thought about the societal impact of cloud computing in terms of the reduced need for commuting and transport of surface mail and transport and production of physical media for ordinary business needs.

    One suspects a significant impact, but that's too much for these micro brains to handle methinks.
  24. macrumors 6502

    Jun 12, 2011
  25. Shrink, Apr 17, 2012
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2012

    macrumors demi-god


    Feb 26, 2011
    New England, USA
    My, my...we do take criticism well, don't we?!:rolleyes:

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