Greenpeace: Dirty Energy Fuels Internet

Greenpeace is upping the ante in the war for clean energy in computing. We recently covered the organization’s Guinness record breaking campaign on Facebook to encourage the social media giant to stop using coal resources. Now, it seems the non-profit is going after the entire IT industry.

A new report from the ecological group suggests the growing cloud-based infrastructure of the Internet is having terrible effects on the environment. Some of the figures Greenpeace released are, honestly, a bit staggering. For example, nearly 2% of all global electricity is consumed by data centers, and that if the total energy use of the Internet were to be compared to nations, it would be the fifth largest consumer on Earth.

image via Greenpeace

Greenpeace says the industry, on the whole, doesn’t release energy information related to the negative impact. Still, they’ve calculated that facilities like Apple’s iData Center in North Carolina run almost entirely off dirty energy. It seems that Facebook, however, is still the main target in Greenpeace’s campaign, as the non-profit noted that the company’s data center in Oregon runs primarily on coal, and that the social media site, overall, gets over 50% of its energy from coal.

Companies like Google, however, seem to be making strides towards cleaner energy use. According to Greenpeace, estimates for Internet infrastructure based on coal use are as follows: Apple 54.5%, Facebook 53.2%, IBM 51.6%, HP 49.4%, Twitter 42.5%, Google 34.7%, Microsoft 34.1%, Amazon 28.5%, Yahoo 18.3%. The organization has set up an online site to track different corporations and their efforts to curb harmful emissions.

Aaron Colter is a freelance writer and marketing consultant in Portland, Oregon. A graduate of Purdue University, he has worked for the NCAA, Dark Horse Comics, Willamette Week, AOL, The Huffington Post, Top Shelf Productions, DigitalTrends, theMIX agency, SuicideGirls, EarthTechling, d'Errico Studios and others. He is also the co-founder of BananaStandMedia.com, a free record label, recording studio, and distribution service for independent musicians.