Sunday, April 24, 2011

Apple is the "Least Green" Tech Company

Apple seems to be under the spell of lots of controversies these days. It was just days ago that there were privacy concerns regarding the storing of users location data on iPhones and now we have this damning report from Greenpeace that implicates the company of being not “green” enough. If you thought we are talking about Apple’s product line up being not green enough, well, that’s not the case. This is actually about something else.

According to the report titled “How Dirty is Your Data?” Apple is still largely dependent on thermal power for most of its server sites. With US being a leader in the nuclear power field over 50% dependence on coal based power has been termed unfortunate by the report.
The report also adds that Apple’s soon to be set up data center at North Carolina would consume even more power and more than triple Apple’s current power usage. It is estimated that when the Data Center becomes operational, it will use the power that would be equivalent to the power consumption of 80,000 average U.S. homes.

If that wasn’t all, the new facility too would be powered largely by coal. The report pegs Apple’s current dependency on coal based power at 54-percent while the same for Facebook and IBM has been pegged at 53 percent and 52 percent respectively.

It is not a legal requirement in the US to disclose the power usage by large corporations – at the same time, companies are wary of making their energy consumption reports public either. There is no data on the energy consumption required to power services like Gmail which are essentially in the cloud.

It is estimated that as the demand for services like these grow, electricity consumption by Data Centers which is currently pegged at 1.5 to 2 percent of world electricity consumption, will grow to four times in the next decade. In the US, 3% of all the electricity produced is already being consumed by data centers.