Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Greenpeace: How Dirty is Your Data?

Apple earned the lowest score among large, U.S., Internet companies for the eco-friendliness of its data centers, according to a newly published scorecard from Greenpeace.

Data centers consume an increasing amount of electricity. Greenpeace calculates that if the Internet was a country, it would rank 5th for the amount of electricity usage, just below Japan and above Russia. This amounts to 1.5-2% of all global electricity; and data center energy consumption is growing at a rate of 12% a year.

Greenpeace takes the companies to task for locating their data centers in geographic locations that rely on dirty energy, namely, coal and nuclear.  Data centre clusters (Google, Facebook, Apple) are cropping up in places like North Carolina and the US Midwest, where cheap and dirty coal-powered electricity is abundant.

The companies also rank poorly for their reluctance to disclosed their energy-usage and for failing to adopt effective carbon-mitigation strategies for their data centers.

On the positive side, Greenpeace applauds Google's 20-year power purchasing agreement for wind energy in Iowa, i/o Data Centers' 5,000-panel solar array on the roof of its new 580,000 sq ft facility in Phoenix, and GreenQloud in Iceland which is powered 100% by geothermal and hydro power.

The 28-page report is posted online.

See also