Apple defends against Greenpeace over energy claims

Apple has defended itself against Greenpeace claims that it uses “dirty energy” to power up its data centres and that its new data centre in Maiden, North Carolina would use 100 megawatts (MW) of power.

Apple has hit back, saying that the data centre will use one fifth of that estimate – at 20MW.

And now Greenpeace has issued a campaign protest via its site so people can send posts to chiefs Steve Ballmer at Microsoft, Jeff Bezos at Amazon and Tim Cook at Apple if they are concerned about how the three tech giants are approaching green IT.

Greenpeace issued its How Clean is Your Cloud report earlier this week. The report rated 14 global IT companies such as Apple, Amazon, Google, Microsoft, HP and Twitter, on how much greenhouse gas emissions they are producing at their data centre operations.

Greenpeace activists also took to the roof of Apple’s European base in Cork to stage a protest yesterday.

It was back in February that Apple announced its plan to build a 100-acre solar farm around its data centre in Maiden, North Carolina. In 2011, Apple commissioned the North Carolina data centre. At the time Apple said that the solar farm would be a 20-megawatt facility, supplying 42m kWh of clean, renewable energy annually.

This week Greenpeace slated Apple’s claims in its report. Based on its data, it suggested that Apple would use 100MW of power at the facility.

“Apple has announced a 20MW solar array, and has also put a 5MW fuel cell device on site in Maiden, NC. While much has been made of this announcement, it will cover only 10% of their total generation for the data center,” said Greenpeace in the report. (pdf).

“Our data centre in North Carolina will draw about 20 megawatts at full capacity,” an Apple spokeswoman said. “We believe this industry-leading project will make Maiden the greenest data centre ever built.”

In its report Greenpeace was critical of Apple, Amazon and Microsoft, claiming that they all scored badly for relying on “dirty energy” to power up their data centres.

Data centre investments in Ireland, the Netherlands and Germany

Greenpeace also gave a snapshot of countries such as Ireland, the Netherlands and Germany, showing their data centre investments, their grid mixes and their expected renewable energy supplies by 2020. See the infographic below, taken from the report.

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