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Greenpeace Slams Apple Over Its Data Center Energy Choices

Clean Cloud Power

Greenpeace has issued a new report that criticizes Apple and other leading tech companies for perpetuating the dirty energy issues of older, entrenched industries
Apple has been steadily adding to its online offerings, which can be delivered via the cloud from its iTunes platform. Following the phenomenal success of the iPad, the soon-to-be-completed $1bn US dollar ‘iDataCenter’ in North Carolina indicates that Apple is moving to significantly increase its cloud-based offerings to iPhone and iPad customers.

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Transparency: C
Although Apple has become increasingly transparent about the environmental footprint and operational performance of its products, especially laptops and iPhones, it has not been as forthcoming on the current or expected impacts of its online products. Though many IT companies have pointed to the benefits of downloading entertainment over traditional delivery methods, one of the largest online destinations for such media – iTunes – does not provide any data to evaluate these claims or allow comparison with offerings from other vendors. Apple does participate in the Carbon Disclosure Project voluntary reporting programme.
Infrastructure siting: F
Apple previously touted its operations in California as much cleaner than those that use energy produced on the average grid44. Apple’s decision to locate its iDataCenter in North Carolina, which has an electrical grid among the dirtiest in the country (61% coal, 31% nuclear45), indicates a lack of a corporate commitment to clean energy supply for its cloud operations. The fact that the alternative location for Apple’s iDataCenter was Virginia46, where electricity is also comes from very dirty sources, is an indication that, in addition to tax incentives, access to inexpensive energy, regardless of its source, is a key driver in Apple’s site selection.
Mitigation: C
Apple has reported a significant increase in the amount of clean energy it has purchased for its operations in the past two years, and has said that it will continue to look for sources of renewable energy and buy green power wherever it can be found.47 However, Apple has not declared a renewable energy or greenhouse gas target to shape this commitment. The massive iDataCenter has estimated electricity demand (at full capacity) as high as triple Apple’s current total reported electricity use, which will unfortunately have a significant impact on Apple’s environmental footprint.
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