Apple's Cloud Technology Fueled by Coal

In the cloud, Apple is known as a gross polluter.

And the other high-tech giants didn't fare much better.

Greenpeace has issued a report on cloud technology energy use and named Apple as one of the study's worst polluters, with 55 percent of its data center power coming from coal plants and 27.8 percent from nuclear reactors. The environmental group scored the companies based on energy transparency, infrastructure siting, energy efficiency and renewables/advocacy. Apple earned a D- for its overall environmental score.

Facebook received a C, namely because of little energy transparency, while Google fared a little better with a B average, largely because of its commitment to renewable energy. 

"A few companies,such as Yahoo and Google, have taken meaningful steps to steer their infrastructure investments toward cleaner energy," Gary Cook wrote in the "How Clean is Your Cloud?" study. "But the sector as a whole remains focused on rapid growth."
The problem, as Cook sees it, is that most companies aren't replacing their "dirty" power with cleaner sources of energy.
Apple isn't alone in its coal-based energy use, it's simply that it used the most of it. HP and Oracle also use 49.7 and 48.7 percent coal power, too. Oracle's score wasn't much better than Apple, a D, while HP, scoring higher in transparency, infrastructure siting and renewables, earned a C. 

The report also suggests that energy used to power these data centers -- which are increasing with cloud storage and mobile use -- may be about 70 percent more than originally thought. Also $450 billion is being spent annually on new data centers, despite the global recession.

The problem is that the cloud was sold as a better way to do business, but some people didn't understand that just because you don't see it doesn't mean it's cleaner. There are a lot of things data centers can do to mitigate energy consumption, but that requires tech companies to make a conscientious effort to find data centers and builders willing to do so.

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