How Clean Is Your Cloud?

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has come out today in defense of its data center in North Carolina saying that the report released by Greenpeace yesterday was inaccurate in showing where the installations power supply came from. The report said that Apple sourced most of the electricity for its server farm from coal burning power plants. That allegation made it particularly low on the list of data providers environmental friendliness. The report, which was entitled “How Clean Is Your Energy?”, put both Facebook and Google well ahead of Apple on the list of the most environmentally friendly companies.

Apple has taken umbrage at the accusations today and has released its own information detailing energy consumption at the plant. According to the iPad manufacturer the data center, which is used for Apple’s iCloud and iTunes services, takes 60% of its electricity consumption from renewable resources.Greenpeace had released a figure of 10% of electricity sourced from renewable sources.  Apple also pointed to plans it had in place to build the United State’s largest non-utility solar farm in order to power the center. The farm would supply 20 megawatts of power directly to the data center and when built would certainly offset any environmental danger the facility poses according to Greenpeace. Apple says the data center will only draw a maximum of 20 megwatts when running at full capacity.

Apple is building a new data center in Oregon at the moment that the company says will be run 100% on renewable resources. The Oregon plant will not be finished until next year and by that time the company hopes that both will be able to be run off of renewable energy completely, using the grid as a backup mechanism. The company is striving to provide its own electricity at such plants as are many other companies with similar data needs.

Data centers are becoming more and more populous and will continue to do so for the considerable future as companies move to a cloud-centric computing model. Apple is already extensively involved in the sphere with its iCloud in full swing and its device Siri doing most of its processing at Apple’s plants. The renewable energy sector has a friend in large power sucking data centers as they are self contained and able to take full advantage of all grants on offer for greener technology. This makes such facilities ideal for the building of discrete renewable energy plants.