(Adds Amazon comment)
By Alexei Oreskovic
SAN FRANCISCO, April 2 Apple Inc,
Google Inc and Facebook Inc have made
significant progress in adopting renewable energy sources to
power their Web services, the environmental group Greenpeace
said in a report on Wednesday.
But energy-hungry data centers operated by some of the
Internet industry's top companies remain overly reliant on
carbon-emitting coal and gas, the report said.
Apple Inc, which built an on-site solar panel farm and
fuel-cells at its North Carolina data center and has procured
renewable energy directly at its other three facilities, earned
the highest marks on the "scorecard" of Internet company data
centers that Greenpeace issues every two years.
Greenpeace rated Apple's efforts in transparency, renewable
energy policy and renewable energy deployment with an A grade in
each category, compared with a mix of D and F grades two years
ago when the group released its last report.
At the other end of the spectrum, Amazon.com Inc's
Web Services business, which Greenpeace said operates at least
18 data centers around the world, was singled out for being
among the least committed to renewable energy, earning F grades
in three out of Greenpeace's four categories.
Some Internet companies "have refused to pay even lip
service to sustainability and are simply buying dirty energy
straight from the grid," said the report. "Those companies, most
notably Amazon Web Services, are choosing how to power their
infrastructure based solely on lowest electricity prices."
Amazon disputed Greenpeace's assessment of its data center
operation, saying that the report's data and assumptions were
inaccurate. Amazon said in an emailed statement that data
centers in two regions in which it operates use "100 percent
carbon-free power" without elaborating.
Data centers, multibillion-dollar facilities stuffed with
racks of tightly-packed computers, are the heart of the
fast-growing Internet industry. The facilities store consumers'
email and other personal data, and help deliver popular online
offerings such as Netflix's streaming video service and
Facebook's photo-laden social network.
A large Internet data center requires energy capacity of as
much as 80 megwatts, which would be enough to power about 65,000
U.S. homes, according to Greenpeace spokesman David Pomerantz.
The increasing prevalence of Internet services means growing
demand for electricity in the coming years, Greenpeace said.
Six major Internet services companies - Facebook, Apple,
Google, Box, Rackspace and Salesforce.com - have
committed to making their data center operations 100 percent
based on renewable energy, according to the report. Those
commitments are putting pressure on utilities to offer wind,
solar and other forms of renewable power, Greenpeace said.
The report looked at 19 companies that operate more than 300
data centers combined. Greenpeace used information provided by
the companies and utilities to estimate what portion of a
company's Internet infrastructure is going to be based on
renewable energy, which it refers to as a "Clean Energy Index."
Renewable energy credits, which a company can purchase to
meet clean energy goals, were not counted.
Apple's Clean Energy Index was 100 percent, while Facebook
and Google were rated by Greenpeace at 49 percent and 48
Google has been a leader in committing to renewable energy,
with procurement deals to purchase wind power from utilities in
several states, Greenpeace said. But with 13 data centers,
compared with Apple's four, the company faces a bigger task in
shifting its overall energy usage to renewable sources.
Amazon Web Services, which Greenpeace said operates more
than 10 data centers in the Virginia area, had a Clean Energy
Index of 15 percent, according to Greenpeace.
(Reporting by Alexei Oreskovic; Editing by Mohammad Zargham,