Responding to the publication of a report which shows Amazon, Apple and Microsoft all scoring badly when it comes to a reliance upon 'dirty energy' to power their data centers, Apple has hit back with claims that the report over-estimates the power consumption of iCloud and projects being constructed to offset energy usage.
According to Greenpeace cloud companies can grasp the opportunity to be a catalyst in so far as driving change towards cleaner electricity generation by "making better energy choice and demanding more from utility vendors" that could ultimately create a greener grid for everyone and a truly green cloud.
Apple responded with a disclosure of the amount of energy consumed by the data center: 20 million watts at full throttle. This compares to the Greenpeace report estimate of some 100 million watts. Apple went on to note that it was building, for example, two "large projects intended to offset energy use from the grid in North Carolina" in the form of a solar panel array and a fuel cell installation. Something that Greenpeace failed to mention it the damning report.
Greenpeace, however, appears to remain unconvinced by the Apple statement. Writing in the Greenpeace blog, Gary Cook acknowledged it was a positive step for Apple to reveal energy consumption figures, but appeared doubtful as to the accuracy of the information. "The information they released today does not add up with what they have reported to be the size of the investment and physical size of the data centre" Cook says. He claims that the $1 billion investment over a 10 year period, for the North Carolina data centre, would generate 100MW of usage if the most conservative of benchmarks were used in estimating consumption. Cook also reckons that "the size of the facility at 500,000 sq foot would also indicate a much larger power demand" and quotes Amazon's chief web engineer as conservatively estimating it would consume at least 78MW based upon the size of the facility alone.
Cook concludes that Apple is "seeking to provide select pieces of information to make their dirty energy footprint seem smaller".
The Greenpeace campaign to get Apple to lead the clean energy revolution continues and suggests that as one of the most cutting-edge companies in tech it should be doing all it can to disassociate itself from a 19th Century dirty energy source such as coal. Greenpeace activists have, in the last few weeks, been taking their protests directly to Apple by occupying Apple Stores and "engaging" staff and customers in a debate about the damage dirty energy causes to the planet.
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