Greenpeace has released a report entitled ‘How dirty is your data – A look at the energy choices that power cloud computing’.
It looks at the energy consequences of the cloud infrastructure decisions that major IT brand companies are making, assesses who’s good and who’s bad, and makes recommendations to the IT sector on how to do things better.
Among the reports conclusions are:
The $1bn Apple iData Center in North Carolina, expected to open shortly, will consume as much as 100 MW of electricity, but the surrounding energy grid is 95% reliant on coal and nuclear power.
Yahoo! and Google understand the importance of a renewable energy supply. Yahoo! has sited most of its data centres near sources of renewable energy and Google is signing up to renewable energy and investing in solar and wind power projects.
Facebook is on track to be the cloud computing company most dependent on coal-powered electricity, with the majority of its facilities estimated to rely on coal.
There’s lots in the report and the company rankings are interesting - Greenpeace’s reports are always provocative. My own complaint would be about the condemnation of nuclear power. It’s not good and in an ideal world we wouldn’t use it, but realistically it is going to be an essential element of the energy mix in the future. To group nuclear power with coal-fuelled generation is not helpful.
Re Google’s renewable energy investments, there have been several recent announcements:
A $168m investment in a solar energy power plant being developed by BrightSource Energy at Ivanpah in the Mojave Desert in California.
Google, Tyr Energy and Sumitomo Corporation of America are investing approximately $500m in a $2bn project to build the world’s largest wind farm. It’s the 845-megawatt Shepherds Flat wind project under construction near Arlington, Oregon.
According to Reuters, Google has also invested €3.5m in a 18.7-MW German solar power plant near Berlin.