Apple, Facebook, and Google are leading a growing number of technology companies working to power the internet with 100 percent renewable energy, signaling a major shift in the sector over the past two years, and leaving Amazon Web Services behind, according to Greenpeace research.
Amazon Web Services, which hosts the data for many of the internet’s most popular services, powers its infrastructure with polluting energy sources that contribute to global warming, according to Clicking Clean: How Companies are Creating the Green Internet.
Greenpeace evaluated the energy choices of 19 leading internet companies, surveying the electricity supply chains of over 300 data centers. Five of those companies have committed to a goal of powering their operations with 100 percent renewable energy.
Apple became the first company to achieve 100 percent renewable energy goal to power its iCloud. It is operating the largest privately owned solar installation in the US at its North Carolina data center. Apple led the companies evaluated, with a Clean Energy Index of 100 percent, according to the report.
Facebook flexed its muscles to push its utility in Iowa, MidAmerican Energy, to power its data center there with wind energy. MidAmerican responded by investing $1.9 billion in wind power generation, placing the world’s largest-ever order of onshore wind turbines, in part to meet the social network’s demands.
Google has pioneered the use of power purchase agreements for wind energy, to provide electricity for its services like Gmail and YouTube, the report says.
By contrast Amazon Web Services currently meets only 15 percent of its electricity demand with clean energy. Coal powers 28 percent of the company’s cloud, nuclear 27 percent, and gas 25 percent.
Greenpeace claims that technology companies have “immense power” either to drive a renewable energy revolution, or to tie the new digital economy to polluting sources of power. If the internet were a country, its electricity demand would currently rank sixth, the report says. Estimates from the industry say internet data will triple from 2012 to 2017.
Apple, Facebook and Google have proven over the past 24 months that wind and solar energy are ready and waiting to power the internet, and the rest of our economy, with clean electricity, according to Gary Cook, Greenpeace senior IT analyst.