Greenpeace gives thumbs up to Google, FB

By : |April 17, 2012 0

Bangalore /San Francisco: The current explosion in cloud computing offered by major IT companies is driving significant new demand for dirty energy like coal and nuclear power, according to a new report from Greenpeace International.

Also read: Apple iCloud dirtiest of all

[image_library_tag 993/12993, align=”left” width=”150″ height=”51″ title=”” alt=”” border=”1″ vspace=”10″ hspace=”10″ complete=”complete” ,default]The report, ‘How Clean is Your Cloud?,’ shows a growing split within the tech industry between companies that are taking steps to power their cloud computing infrastructures with clean energy, like Google, Yahoo and Facebook, and companies like Apple, Amazon and Microsoft who lag behind by choosing to build their growing fleets of data centres to be powered by coal and nuclear energy.   

The report evaluates 14 major IT companies and their electricity supply chains of over 80 data centres based on key elements needed to build a clean cloud computing infrastructure. 



“When people around the world share their photos or music on the cloud, they want to know that the cloud is powered by clean, safe energy,” said Mrinmoy Chattaraj, Campaigner Greenpeace India. “Yet highly innovative and profitable companies like Apple, Amazon, and Microsoft are building their data centres powered by dirty sources of energy like coal and  diesel and acting like their customers won’t know or won’t care. They’re wrong.”

As more people around the world use the cloud to store and share photos, videos, and documents, IT companies have to build more data centres —buildings so large they are often visible from space — that house thousands of computers and consume tremendous amounts of electricity.

These cloud data centers consume a tremendous amount of electricity; some consume the equivalent of nearly 180,000 US homes or close to 1.8 million Indian homes. If the cloud were a country its electricity demand would currently rank 5th in the world, which is ahead of India’s total electricity demand and this is expected to triple by 2020.

“While many IT companies have made great strides in efficiency, that’s only half the picture — they need to make sure their energy comes from clean sources,” said Gary Cook, Greenpeace International Senior Policy Analyst.

Companies like Google, Yahoo and Facebook are beginning to lead the sector down a clean energy pathway through innovations in energy efficiency, prioritising renewable energy access when setting up data centres, and demanding better energy options from utilities and government decision-makers.

Both Google and Yahoo are increasingly powering their facilities with renewable energy even as they continue to expand. Facebook has now also stepped forward to lead the way to a cleaner cloud through its ongoing efforts to share energy efficiency technology through its OpenCompute initiative, and also with the announcement of a new policy in December that prioritises clean energy for its infrastructure. Unfortunately, the majority of the industry has refused to follow the lead of those pioneers.

Here are few things IT companies with cloud services need to do

1. Be more transparent about energy usage and carbon footprint, and share innovative solutions so that the rest of the sector can improve
2. Develop a siting policy that demonstrates a preference to build data centres in areas where clean energy will power the facility
3. Invest in or directly purchase renewable energy
4. Demand that governments and electric utilities increase the amount of renewable electricity available on the grid.

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