Greenpeace report reveals surprising leader in race for cleaner internet

11 Jan 2017

Solar panels. Image: gui jun peng/Shutterstock

Greenpeace has released its latest report into what companies are doing the most to clean up their act, and based on its findings, there is one clear front runner.

The Greenpeace report entitled Clicking Clean: Who is Winning the Race to Build a Green Internet? highlights the ever-increasing demand the internet has on energy across the globe, citing evidence that 7pc of global electricity is currently needed to run it.

Given that global internet traffic is expected to triple in just three years’ time, the environmental organisation wondered if the world’s largest tech companies will be ready to power the vast majority of it using renewable energy.

Switch leads the way

Based on Greenpeace’s findings, some of the familiar leaders in the tech world include Apple, with a clean energy index of 83pc based on available data, followed by Facebook at 67pc and Google at 56pc.

Apple’s high ranking has been attributed to its decision to open one of its largest renewable energy data centres in Athenry, Galway later this year.

One of the surprise entries on the list was the data centre provider Switch, which despite being a smaller operation than Apple, achieved a 100pc clean energy index, meaning it is entirely powered by clean energy.

With an overall grade of ‘C’ and an energy transparency grade of ‘F’, Amazon was only able to achieve a clean energy index of 17pc. Greenpeace said the company is able to “talk a good game on renewables, but is keeping its customers in the dark on its energy decisions”.

Greenpeace rankings

Image: Greenpeace

Also notable in this year’s report is the first inclusion of Asian companies, including tech giants Tencent, Baidu, Alibaba, and Naver, revealing a region severely lacking in renewable energy use, with many receiving an overall ‘F’ grading.

Netflix under scrutiny

Netflix has also come under scrutiny, with one of the largest data footprints on Earth, accounting for one-third of internet traffic in North America and contributing significantly to the worldwide data demand from video streaming.

With an overall ranking of ‘D’, Netflix was given a clean energy index of 17pc, with the majority of its energy consumption being generated equally by natural gas, coal and nuclear energy.

“Like Apple, Facebook and Google, Netflix is one of the biggest drivers of the online world and has a critical say in how it is powered,” said Greenpeace USA senior IT analyst Gary Cook.

“Netflix must embrace the responsibility to make sure its growth is powered by renewables, not fossil fuels, and it must show its leadership here.”

Also facing criticism are the social media giants of Reddit and Twitter, which both received an ‘F’ grading, with a clean energy index of 17pc and 10pc, respectively.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic