GreenPeace targets Cloud Data Centers environmental impact and use of coal power

I blogged back in July 2009 asking what would be Greenpeace's target for environmental impact of data centers, speculating Apple, Google, Microsoft as a possible target.  Well Greenpeace uses the Apple brand recognition and the iPad announcement to create awareness.

The announcement of Apple’s iPad has been much
anticipated by a world with an ever-increasing appetite for
mobile computing devices as a way to connect, interact,
learn and work. As rumours circulated – first about its
existence and then about its capabilities - the iPad
received more media attention than any other gadget in
recent memory. Apple Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs
finally showcased his company’s latest creation before a
rapt audience in San Francisco. From their smart phones
and netbooks, the crowd feverishly blogged and tweeted
real time updates out to a curious world.

Greenpeace report cover: Cloud Computing and Climate Change
Whether you actually want an iPad or not, there is no
doubt that it is a harbinger of things to come. The iPad
relies upon cloud-based computing to stream video,
download music and books, and fetch email. Already,
millions access the ‘cloud’ to make use of online social
networks, watch streaming video, check email and create
documents, and store thousands of digital photos online
on popular web-hosted sites like Flickr and Picasa.

The term cloud, or cloud computing, used as a metaphor
for the internet, is based on an infrastructure and business
model whereby - rather than being stored on your own
device - data, entertainment, news and other products
and services are delivered to your device, in real time,
from the internet. The creation of the cloud has been a
boon both to the companies hosting it and to consumers
who now need nothing but a personal computer and
internet access to fulfill most of their computing needs.


Greenpeace has been making noise about Facebook's data center, and now has started the public awareness in this pdf.


I know of some companies that have a sigh of relief they are not on the Greenpeace list.


Some of you have noticed I made a change last week to the blog title and now have Green (low carbon) data center.


Green is such an overloaded term it made sense to clarify a focus on discussing low carbon as a goal of a green data center.  Note the following in the Greenpeace pdf.

More cloud-computing companies are pursuing design and siting
strategies that can reduce the energy consumption of their data
centres, primarily as a cost containment measure. For most
companies, the environmental benefits of green data design are
generally of secondary concern.

Cloud computing infographic
Facebook’s decision to build its own highly-efficient data centre in
Oregon that will be substantially powered by coal-fired electricity clearly
underscores the relative priority for many cloud companies. Increasing
Key trends that will impact the environmental footprint of the cloud
the energy efficiency of its servers and reducing the energy footprint
of the infrastructure of data centres are clearly to be commended, but
efficiency by itself is not green if you are simply working to maximise
output from the cheapest and dirtiest energy source available. The US
EPA will soon be expanding its EnergyStar rating system to apply to
data centres, but similarly does not factor in the fuel source being used
to power the data centre in its rating criteria. Unfortunately, as our
collective demand for computing resources increases, even the most
efficiently built data centres with the highest utilisation rates serve only
to mitigate, rather than eliminate, harmful emissions.

Some people thought the hype about Facebook's coal power was a fad.  No it is a trend and the start of evaluating the carbon impact of data centers.


Here is a sampling of other media coverage.

Coal Fuels Much Of Internet "Cloud", Says Greenpeace

New York Times - Peter Henderson - ‎5 hours ago‎

By REUTERS SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - The 'cloud' of data which is becoming the heart of the Internet is creating an all too real cloud of pollution as ...

Greenpeace issues warning about data centre power

BBC News - ‎7 hours ago‎

Greenpeace is calling on technology giants like Apple, Microsoft, Yahoo and Facebook to power their data centres with renewable energy sources. ...

Data clouds called out for dirty energy

Marketplace (blog) - ‎5 hours ago‎

Environmental activities are concerned about server farms' use of dirty energy to keep sites like Google and Facebook running. ...

Greenpeace: Cloud Contributes to Climate Change

Data Center Knowledge - Rich Miller - ‎5 hours ago‎

The environmental group Greenpeace says data center builders must become part of the solution to the climate change challenge, rather than part of the ...

Cloud computing 'fuels climate change' - Nicky Trup - ‎8 hours ago‎

The growth of cloud computing could cause a huge increase in greenhouse gas emissions, Greenpeace has warned. ...

2020: Cloud Computing GHG Emissions To Triple

Basil & Spice - ‎9 hours ago‎

San Francisco, United States — As IT industry analysts label 2010 the “Year of the Cloud”, a new report by Greenpeace shows how the launch of quintessential ...

Greenpeace criticises coal-fuelled internet cloud

TechRadar UK - Adam Hartley - ‎10 hours ago‎

Eco-campaigners at Greenpeace have criticised the idea of an internet 'cloud' - with data centres built by the likes of Facebook, Apple, ...

The iPad, internet, and climate change links in the spotlight

Greenpeace USA - ‎13 hours ago‎

International — On the eve of the launch of the iPad, our latest report warns that the growth of internet computing could come with a huge jump in ...