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Amazon branded “dirtiest” web firm – major rejects “inaccurate data”

Sun 27 Apr 2014

gary-cook-greenpeace

Environmental campaign group Greenpeace has slated Amazon Web Services (AWS) as “the dirtiest and least transparent” web firm, saying it is “far behind its major competitors, with zero reporting of its energy or environmental footprint to any source or stakeholder.”

The cloud major has reacted angrily to the claims slamming Greenpeace’s US arm’s report Clicking Clean: How Companies are Building the Green Internet as “using false assumptions” and “inaccurate data”.  “We provided this feedback to Greenpeace prior to publishing their report” said an AWS spokesperson.

The Greenpeace report praised rival servioce providers including Box, Google, Rackspace, and Salesforce, along side Apple and Facebook for committing to a goal of powering data centres with 100% renewable energy.

It said Google maintained its leadership in building a renewably powered internet. Google is expanding its renewable energy purchasing and investment – independently and through collaboration with its utility providers, the green group said.

Apple and Facebook weree praised for ditching “the previous dogma within the sector of withholding energy data due to competitiveness concerns”. But Greenpeace said: “Transparency still remains weak overall among many brands, particularly colocation providers.”

“Apple, Facebook and Google are powering our online lives with clean energy, and building a greener offline world for everyone in the process,” said Gary Cook, Greenpeace senior IT analyst. “These companies have proven over the past 24 months that wind and solar energy are ready and waiting to power the internet, and the rest of our economy, with clean electricity,” Cook said.

Greenpeace issues statement saying: “Amazon Web Services, which hosts a large part of the internet, including popular companies like Pinterest, Netflix, Spotify, Tumblr, AirBnB, Yelp and Vine, currently sources only 15 % of its electricity demand with clean energy. Coal powers 28 % of the company’s cloud, nuclear 27 %, and gas 25 %. Amazon’s growth is fueling the increased use and construction of coal and gas-burning power plants in Virginia, and has jeopardized clean energy growth in Oregon.

“While companies like Apple, Facebook and eBay have led the broader sector to be more transparent about its energy use, Amazon steadfastly refuses to reveal any details about its energy footprint to its customers or the public.”

AWS said it supported the contention that technology leaders should help safeguard the environment by implementing both efficient use and clean sources of energy.  “We work hard on our own, and together with our power providers all over the world, to offer AWS cloud services in an environmentally friendly way in all of our regions. AWS operates efficient and highly utilised data centres across 10 different regions globally, two of which (Oregon and GovCloud Regions) use 100% carbon-free power.”

The AWS spokesman said cloud is inherently more energy efficient than traditional computing “that depends on small, inefficient, and over-provisioned data centres. “With AWS, customers can reduce their overall consumption of IT resources while also improving utilisation. Collectively, AWS customers are the driving force in this effort by eliminating hundreds of thousands of individual data centres worldwide, along with the associated wasted capacity and overprovisioned energy. “

Greenpeace warned that data centres will be the fastest growing part of the global IT sector energy footprint. Their energy demand will increase 81% by 2020. The aggregate electricity demand of the cloud (including data centres and networks, but not devices) in 2011 was 684 billion kWh. Greenpeace said that compared with countries, the cloud would rank 6th in the world, with demand expected to increase 63% by 2020.

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