Greenpeace puns iCoal, but the group may have its numbers wrong
Greenpeace recently published a new ad on YouTube that takes a swipe at Apple's reliance on coal to power its cloud computing services, however the environmental organization may have goofed when compiling its figures.
In early April Greenpeace issued a report accusing Apple and other IT companies of setting up data centers in the eastern United States where power is cheaper and dirtier.
However, AllThingsD pushes back against the findings. The authors find a mis-match when the report compares Microsoft's data center with Apple's:
According to Apple, its Maiden, North Carolina, data center requires just 20 megawatts when it’s running full bore, and well over half of that energy will come from renewable sources as soon as the 171-acre solar array it is building nearby is finished.
But according to Greenpeace, the Maiden facility requires 100 MW of power running at full capacity, of which renewable energy powers 10 percent and coal 55.1 percent.
Odd, considering Microsoft’s Quincy, Washington, data center, which is exactly the same size as Apple’s, only requires 27 MW, and its Chicago facility, which is 200,000 square feet larger, requires 60 MW.
Data Center Knowledge follows up with the same story and speculates that Greenpeace got its numbers wrong since it looked at the dollar amount that Apple was investing and extrapolated the amount of coal the facility would be consuming.
So how could Greenpeace have been so far off base? For its starting point, Greenpeace’s math is based on the $1 billion Apple has said it will invest in the facility in Maiden, North Carolina.
An obvious gap in that logic is that it doesn’t account for Apple’s investment in the solar array and fuel cell technology being built to support the iDataCenter – costs that are atypical for data center construction and not included in comparative metrics. In developing its clean energy index for Apple, Greenpeace appears to have failed to account for the cost of the company’s clean energy.
Image from GreenpeaceVideo