Greenpeace sticks to its guns over iCloud report

Posted by Emma Woollacott

Apple's fighting back against claims that its newest data-center is a coal-guzzling blight on the planet - but Greenpeace isn't convinced.

In a report released yesterday, Greenpeace slated Apple's new facility in Maiden, North Carolina, claiming it would draw about 100 megawatts of electricity and that 90 percent of its power was generated by coal.

Apple's disputing these figures. It says the data center will consume only 20 megawatts, and that eventually 60 percent of the power will be delivered by an on-site solar farm.

But Greenpeace isn't giving up, pointing to the scale of Apple's investment in the plant and its physical size as signs that the company isn't telling the truth.

It says it made its estimates of power demand using 'fairly conservative' industry benchmarks for data centre investments - 1MW of power demand from servers for every $15 million invested.

"Thus, a $1 billion investment should net Apple 66MW of computer power demand. Assuming a fairly standard energy efficiency factor for new data centres for non-computer energy demand of 50 percent gives you a 100MW  data center," says Greenpeace's Gary Cook in a blog post

"While Apple is well known for making more expensive consumer products, if Apple's plans for the $1 billion investment only generates 20MW in power demand, that would be taking the 'Apple premium' to a whole new level."

The size of the facility - half a million square feet - also bears out this interpretation, says Greenpeace.

The group's report also criticized Twitter, Amazon and Microsoft. However, it praised Google, Yahoo and Facebook - previously one of its biggest targets - for moving toward greater use of clean energy.