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Apple Disagrees with Greenpeace's Criticism for Lack of Data Center Transparency
Greenpeace International, an independent campaigning organization that acts to change attitudes and behavior and protect and converse the environment, has given continued criticism to Apple (News - Alert) over its clean energy policies, which Greenpeace considers “mostly talk and not enough walk.” Greenpeace is criticizing Apple for its lack of energy transparency in its data centers, the huge severs farms that power its iCloud and other online services like iTunes.
Apple announced its intentions in May but the peace-promoting organization says Apple hasn’t provided enough details about how it’s going to reach its goals.
“Apple got a lot of kudos and positive attention for its clean energy commitments in May but it now must explain to its customers how it plans to fully eliminate its dirty energy sources and should extend that policy to new data centers as its iCloud expands,” said Gary Cook, Greenpeace senior IT analyst.
Apple disagrees, saying it’s working to deliver on the promises it made in May to make all of its data centers coal free and run them using renewable energy sources — and that it has been transparent about what it’s up to.
Greenpeace’s Apple Clean Energy (News - Alert) Road Map report follows its “How Clean is Your Cloud?” report, which monitored data centers including Facebook and Google. Apple’s clean energy score improved from 15 percent use to 22.6 percent, and grades in its “Renewables and Advocacy” and “Energy Efficiency and Greenhouse Gas Mitigation” scores improved from Ds to Cs.
However, Apple received a D for its “Energy Transparency” and a D in the “Infrastructure Siting” category.
Apple did decrease the amount of coal and nuclear energy it consumed. In its April report Apple was using 55.1 percent coal and 27.8 percent nuclear, which is now down to 33.5 percent coal and 11.6 percent nuclear.
The estimates are based on power demand for evaluated facilities following the latest 2012 eGrid state level generation mix reported by the US Environmental Protection Authority (EPA).
“We’re committed to building the world’s most environmentally responsible data centers and are leading the industry in the use of renewable energy, including the nation’s largest private solar arrays and non-utility fuel cell installation,” Kristin Huguet, an Apple spokewoman, said. “As we’ve said before, our North Carolina and California data centers will be coal-free as of February 2013 and our newest data centers in Oregon and Nevada will be designed to meet that standard from Day One.”
Apple announced in February this year that it will be building the largest end-user solar array and carrying out the largest non-utility fuel cell installation in the U.S. for its North Carolina data center. Once complete, Apple said the 100-acre, 20MW facility will supply 42 million kWh or clean, renewable energy a year. It said a 5MW biogas fuel cell installation will also come online later this year providing more than 40m kW of power with a 24x7 baseload.
The company says its operation centers in Austin, Texas, Sacramento, California, and Cork, Ireland, and its facilities in Munich, Germany, rely 100 percent on renewable energy it has purchased. At its Cupertino, California-based headquarters, Apple says it uses 50 percent renewable energy, some of which is supplied by onsite fuel cells. “We want to ensure that our efforts to use renewable energy are transparent and that everyone can follow our progress.”
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Edited by Allison Boccamazzo
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