Apple has been named the least green of tech companies in a controversial new Greenpeace evaluation, due to its use of energy from coal-fueled power stations. The league table – which ranks Yahoo! as the greenest company, followed by Google and Amazon – is part of Greenpeace’s “How Dirty is Your Data?” report that will be released today. It suggests that Apple’s new North Carolina data center – expected to be the epicenter of new MobileMe and cloud-based services – will triple the company’s electricity consumption.
In fact, Greenpeace estimates that the facility will suck down the equivalent consumption of 80,000 average US homes. That electricity will come from Duke Energy, which uses 62-percent coal and 32-percent nuclear sources. It’s the coal use which gets Apple a particularly low score, with an 54.5-percent overall data center reliance on coal energy (compared to Facebook at 53.2-percent and IBM at 51.6-percent).
Greenpeace was forced to use estimates in its calculations, since the companies rated in the report aren’t legally obligated to reveal their energy usage stats. Instead it based the numbers of publicly-released data center investment stats, along with other government and utility company information. Data centers as a whole are believed to account for as much as 2-percent of the world’s total electricity consumption.
We’re expecting Apple to respond quickly to this one, given how much emphasis the company places on its green credentials, though so far it has declined to comment on the Greenpeace report. It does raise questions as to what extent we hold companies responsible for energy sourcing, and how much that impacts our decision to choose one device or service provider over another. Will Apple’s ranking in this report make you less likely to choose an iPhone, Mac or use MobileMe, or do you see data center power consumption as a necessary evil too many degrees separate from you as a user to factor into the buying decision? Let us know in the comments.