Apple iCloud, the dirtiest of all clouds

CIOL Bureau
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BANGALORE, INDIA: Environmental organization Greenpeace slammed Apple, (along with Amazon, Twitter and Microsoft), as the worst polluter for building data centres in regions that rely heavily on coal.


The activists group in its latest report, 'How Clean Is Your Cloud?', points out that these companies are rapidly expanding without adequate regard to source of electricity, and relying heavily on dirty energy to power their clouds.

While Greenpeace commended Google, Akamai, Facebook and Yahoo for their commitment to renewable energy, it came down heavily especially upon the iPhone maker for its new iCloud venture.

"Apple has dramatically expanded its data center infrastructure. It has invested at least $1bn in an 'iDataCenter' in North Carolina, one of the world’s largest data centres, and just announced another facility to be built in Prineville, Oregon. Unfortunately, both of these investments are powered by utilities that rely mostly on coal power."


As per the report, 55 per cent of Apple's data centre power comes from coal plants and 27.8 per cent from nuclear reactors. 

Despite the fact that Apple has announced a 20MW solar array, and has also put a 5MW fuel cell device on site in Maiden, NC, however, it will cover only 10 per cent of their total generation for the data centre.

To which, Apple responded (via the New York Times), saying that the data centre would consume about 20 million watts at full capacity - much lower than Greenpeace's estimate, which is 100 million watts. In territory served by Duke, a million watts is enough to power 750 to 1,000 homes.

Huguet, a spokeswoman for Apple, added that the company is building two large projects intended to offset energy use from the grid in North Carolina: an array of solar panels and a set of fuel cells.

"The electricity consumption of data centers may be as much as 70 per cent higher than previously predicted. The combined electricity demand of the internet/cloud (data centres and telecommunications network) globally in 2007 was approximately 623bn kWh. If the cloud were a country, it would have the fifth largest electricity demand in the world," adds the report.