Apple, Microsoft Targeted for Use of 'Dirty' Power

Dennis Faas's picture

Environmental organization Greenpeace has issued a widespread warning about the technology used to host the Internet. According to Greenpeace, much of the online space is dependent on 'dirty' power.

The group says that some of the largest web firms are intentionally moving their servers and other power-hungry facilities to geographical areas that can provide cheaper, although more environmentally harmful sources of electricity.

The criticisms were recently published in a report titled: "How Clean Is Your Cloud?" The title is a reference to the current emphasis on cloud computing, which employs servers on the Internet to replace local storage space for millions of individual computer users.

Specifically, the Greenpeace report says that tech firms operating major data centers use huge amounts of electricity, and the sources of that power matter significantly to the cleanliness of the environment.

Power Sources Can Be Clean Or Dirty

Greenpeace looked at whether technology firms use what it dubs 'clean' or 'dirty' energy.

The classification depends on whether the power comes from renewable sources and small-carbon footprint power plants or from generating stations that rely on environmentally-damaging fuels, including coal and nuclear power.

But the report contains some good news: it praises Facebook, Google, and Yahoo for making strides toward greater use of renewable energy. The report specifically compliments Facebook for its decision to open a data center in the Swedish town of Lulea.

That is significant because the cool location (it's just 62 miles from the Arctic circle) reduces the energy needed to keep equipment from overheating.

It's also a helpful location because the facility is powered with hydroelectric power produced from a nearby river in double the quantities of the Hoover Dam. (Source:

Apple, Microsoft Top Hit List

The Greenpeace report did criticize both Apple and Microsoft for allowing their facilities to rely too much on coal-generated energy. In addition, Amazon and Twitter came under fire for not making public their power sources, as  Facebook, Google, and Yahoo have done.

Apple has disputed the claims in the report. The company argues that one of its new data centers highlighted in the report will run entirely on renewable energy, while the other will get 60 per cent of its power from such clean sources.

Meanwhile, the power company that supplies one of the new Apple data centers said the report failed to recognize its efforts to make its coal-fueled power generators less environmentally harmful. (Source:

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