Greenpeace has warned a number of cloud computing providers, including Apple, Amazon and Microsoft, about the damaging effects their datacentres are having on the environment.
In a new report, entitled "How Clean is Your Cloud", Greenpeace said there is a split in the technology industry between companies that are taking steps to power their clouds with clean energy, such as Google, Yahoo and Facebook, and those whose datacentres run on so-called "dirty energy" like coal and nuclear power.
"When people around the world share their music or photos on the cloud, they want to know that the cloud is powered by clean, safe energy," said Greenpeace International senior policy analyst, Gary Cook.
"Yet highly innovative and profitable companies like Apple, Amazon and Microsoft are building datacentres powered by coal and acting like their customers won't know or won't care. They're wrong."
The report evaluates 14 IT companies and their electricity supply chains of over 80 datacentres, according to a number of key elements Greenpeace believes are needed to build a clean cloud.
While coal is almost universally accepted as having a detrimental impact on the environment, Greenpeace faces some opposition in its arguments that nuclear power should not be classed as green energy.
Greenpeace has long argued that mining the uranium in nuclear power production is environmentally harmful because of the carbon dioxide produced. The environmental group has also been concerned with the safety aspects of nuclear power.
Greenpeace said cloud computing providers need to be more transparent about their energy usage and carbon footprint, and should follow Google, Yahoo and Facebook in the ways they have prioritised renewable energy sources.
Greenpeace also pushed the IT industry to share innovative solutions in green energy like Facebook has just done with its OpenCompute initiative, and to make demands on governments to increase the amount of renewable energy available on the grid.
V3 contacted Apple and Microsoft for comment but had received no reply at time of publication.
The report is not the first time Apple has flunked a Greenpeace report, with the firm criticised for its lack of effort to raise awareness around issues of climate change and address its own energy use levels.
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