Apple is leaving Microsoft and Amazon in ‘dust’ for its clean internet efforts – Greenpeace

3 Jul 2013

Following yesterday’s news that Apple is to invest ‘significantly’ in a solar facility to power its new data centre in Nevada, Greenpeace has welcomed the move. The environmental group has hit out at Microsoft and Amazon, however, claiming Apple is leaving both of these companies “in the dust” in terms of transiting to a cleaner internet.

Apple is constructing a solar farm to power its newest data centre in Reno, Nevada, which will be able to provide between 18 to 20 megawatts of power.

Its new data centre in Maiden, North Carolina, already boasts a 100-acre onsite solar photovoltaic array on land around the data centre.

Apple has contracted the solar technology firm SunPower to carry out the construction of the new solar farm in Reno. It also intends to deploy geothermal power at this particular data centre.

Cleaning up data centres

In a statement, Greenpeace senior IT analyst Gary Cook said Apple’s investment in solar energy in Nevada shows that the company is “making good” on its promise to power its “iCloud with 100pc renewable energy”.

“The detailed disclosure that Apple gave today can give confidence to Apple’s millions of users that the company is powering its corner of the internet with clean energy,” said Cook.

“With Google, Facebook, and now Apple all announcing major new deals in recent months for new renewable energy to power their data-centre operations, the race to build an internet powered by renewable energy is clearly in full swing,” he said.

Tech companies are showing they have the ability to use their “influence” and buying power with utilities to change their supply of electricity away from coal and toward renewable energy, he added.

Cleaning up the cloud

Of late, Apple had come under fire from Greenpeace for powering its data centres with fossil fuels. In its 2012 How Clean is Your Cloud? report, Greenpeace ranked companies such as Amazon, Microsoft and Apple on their renewable-energy policies.

Yesterday, Cook took another dig at Microsoft and Amazon, on behalf of Greenpeace.

“Microsoft and Amazon – both of which still power their internet using the dirty electricity that causes global warming – ought to take notice,” he said.

“In the race for a clean internet, Apple is leaving both of those companies in the dust.”

Greenpeace will release an update to its How Clean Is Your Cloud? analysis ranking IT companies for their energy choices later this year.

At Apple, CEO Tim Cook confirmed in May that Lisa Jackson, the former head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the US, was to join the company as its environmental adviser.

At the time, Cook said Jackson’s role would involve co-ordinating environmental efforts at Apple. He said she would be reporting directly to him.

“I’m incredibly impressed with Apple’s commitment to the environment and I’m thrilled to be joining the team,” Jackson had said following the announcement.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic