Major tech companies making great clean tech improvements, says Greenpeace report

3 Apr 2014

Major tech companies, such as Apple, Google and Facebook, have earned the praise of environmental lobbying group Greenpeace in its recent report, for adopting clean-energy technologies into their businesses.

The report, Clicking Clean: How Companies are Creating the Green Internet, follows the 2012 report How Clean Is Your Cloud? and looks at how quickly, and by how much, the tech industry has moved towards renewable energies, such as solar, wind and wave.

The report is quick to commend the biggest tech companies for their renewable energy push, with Apple, Google and Facebook all having the goal of being 100pc renewable-powered in the near future.

However, the findings suggest the actions of the few largest do not hold up against the rest of the industry which, in Greenpeace’s view, is attempting to close the gulf in scale by letting environmental standards slip in the face of increasing costs.

China, in particular, is seen as one of the biggest contributors to poor energy management when it comes to technology. The country’s figures show that while between 1.5pc (700TWh) and 3pc (1,412TWh) of all electricity generation in China was used for the internet in 2011, its dominant energy source is coal power, which is contributing to the country’s standing as one of the world’s biggest polluters.

Named and shamed

Two of the biggest companies to be named and shamed for their renewable energy commitments are Twitter and Amazon Web Services (AWS), with the latter being highlighted as the worst example. Receiving an F grade in categories like ‘renewable energy deployment & advocacy’ and ‘energy transparency’, the company only scores 15pc in the overall clean energy index, in comparison with Apple’s rating of 100pc.

Speaking to CNET, an AWS spokesperson has refuted Greenpeace’s report, saying its figures are misconstrued. “We agree with Greenpeace that technology leaders should help safeguard the environment by implementing both efficient use and clean sources of energy. However, Greenpeace’s report, Clicking Green, misses the mark by using false assumptions on AWS operations and inaccurate data on AWS energy consumption. We provided this feedback to Greenpeace prior to it publishing the report.”

Greenpeace report

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic