Ethical Performance
inside intelligence for responsible business


Apple and Amazon rapped over ‘dirty’ cloud computing

June 2012

A new cloud computing report has deemed Amazon, Apple and Microsoft to be failing on climate change criteria through reliance on coal-to-power data centres, provoking the release of sensitive environmental data from Apple.

Greenpeace research into the transition from local computers to cloud computing networks says that, while these three companies “are rapidly expanding without adequate regard to source of electricity and rely heavily on dirty energy to power their clouds”, Google and Yahoo “lead the sector in prioritising access to renewable energy in their cloud expansion, and both have become more active in supporting policies to drive greater renewable energy investment”. Microsoft declined to comment, but both Amazon and Apple have repudiated the findings.

Amazon said the report drew on inaccurate data. Apple replied that its new iCloud base in North Carolina would use just one-fifth of the electricity estimated by Greenpeace, and that it would be “the greenest data centre ever built”.

Twitter was also criticised for moving its data operations from a renewable site in Sacramento to coal-heavy Atlanta.

The report estimates that electricity demand from data centres will grow by 19% in 2012, calling them “the factories of the 21st-century information age”.

Greenpeace | Global | Sustainability

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