Greenpeace Under Fire Again After Regrading of Apple's Data Center Energy Plans

Earlier this year, environmental activist group Greenpeace made waves with a report taking Apple and other companies to task for not doing enough to eliminate the use of dirty coal-sourced power at their data centers. Apple quickly responded at the time to note that Greenpeace had greatly overestimated the power needs of the company's flagship data center in Maiden, North Carolina, thereby understating the impact of Apple's solar and fuel cell power generation occurring at the site.

In that statement, Apple refuted Greenpeace's estimate of peak power demand of 100 megawatts for the data center, revealing that power demand would actually peak at 20 megawatts. And a month later, Apple published additional details on its efforts to run all of its data centers on 100% green energy.

Greenpeace announced yesterday that it has prepared an updated report on Apple's energy usage based on the new information, but as noted by Data Center Knowledge's Rich Miller, the group still seems to be being overly critical in its grading of Apple, even continuing to make up its own estimates of the North Carolina data center's energy usage rather than believing Apple's public statements.

In its initial report in April, Greenpeace estimated Apple’s power use in North Carolina at a whopping 100 megawatts. The group has reduced that slightly to 81 megawatts, dismissing the company’s disclosure that it expects draw about 20 megawatts at full capacity.

Miller goes on to note that Apple has clearly disclosed in regulatory documents that it intends to install backup generators capable of producing 41 megawatts of electricity in an "N+2" configuration that keeps at least two generators as spares, meaning that Apple is only planning for peak demand of 35-36 megawatts at an absolute maximum.

greenpeace maiden data center energy revised
Miller points to two possible reasons for Greenpeace's continued refusal to acknowledge Apple's statements and other official documents addressing the data center's power needs:

Greenpeace’s continuing use of this methodology, in light of Apple’s disclosure and permit data, raises several possibilities:

- Greenpeace is having difficulty developing estimates that accurately incorporate data center operations and power usage.
- Greenpeace is predisposed to cling to estimates that make Apple look less “green” because it generates more headlines for its awareness campaigns.

For its part, Apple has continued to stand by its earlier comments, issuing a statement to Forbes:

We’re committed to building the world’s most environmentally responsible data centers and are leading the industry in the use of renewable energy, including the nation’s largest private solar arrays and non-utility fuel cell installation,” Kristin Huguet, an Apple spokewoman, said today. “As we’ve said before, our North Carolina and California data centers will be coal-free as of February 2013 and our newest data centers in Oregon and Nevada will be designed to meet that standard from Day One.”

Greenpeace's revised report gives Apple no additional credit for transparency, despite the company having explicitly revealed the power requirements of the data center, and the group's insistence on sticking with an 81-megawatt estimate of peak power capacity brings Apple's usage of renewable energy at the site down to just 22% as opposed to the 60% figure explicitly stated by Apple.

Greenpeace is also reluctant to give Apple credit for its fuel cell installation, waiting to hear whether Apple will actually be using biogas to directly power the cells or if it will be using natural gas and instead purchasing biogas to be inserted elsewhere in the distribution system to offset the company's natural gas usage. But given that Apple's biogas commitment would have the same net effect on overall natural gas consumption regardless of where exactly in the distribution system it is used, it seems that Apple should be pursuing the most cost-effective strategy for deploying that biogas.

Top Rated Comments

Skika Avatar
154 months ago
Greenpeace just wants attention and publicity.
Score: 55 Votes (Like | Disagree)
marc7654 Avatar
154 months ago
Will never be happy

Greenpeace won't be happy until people stop using electricity. They are just a bunch of luddites.
Score: 46 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Dainin Avatar
154 months ago
Greenpeace again proves that it is completely worthless. Nothing but attention whores.
Score: 38 Votes (Like | Disagree)
bocomo Avatar
154 months ago
Those nutjobs lose credibility with junk like this
Score: 37 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Kabeyun Avatar
154 months ago
Greenpeace has been working hard for years to make themselves irrelevant.
Score: 33 Votes (Like | Disagree)
peb123 Avatar
154 months ago
I'd love to see a green report done on Greenpeace. I'm willing to bet they are hypocrites.
Score: 24 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

iOS 18 Siri Integrated Feature

iOS 18 Will Add These New Features to Your iPhone

Friday April 12, 2024 11:11 am PDT by
iOS 18 is expected to be the "biggest" update in the iPhone's history. Below, we recap rumored features and changes for the iPhone. iOS 18 is rumored to include new generative AI features for Siri and many apps, and Apple plans to add RCS support to the Messages app for an improved texting experience between iPhones and Android devices. The update is also expected to introduce a more...
iGBA Feature

Game Boy Emulator for iPhone Now Available in App Store Following Rule Change [Removed]

Sunday April 14, 2024 8:06 am PDT by
A week after Apple updated its App Review Guidelines to permit retro game console emulators, a Game Boy emulator for the iPhone called iGBA has appeared in the App Store worldwide. The emulator is already one of the top free apps on the App Store charts. It was not entirely clear if Apple would allow emulators to work with all and any games, but iGBA is able to load any Game Boy ROMs that...
iOS NES Emulator Bimmy Feature

NES Emulator for iPhone and iPad Now Available on App Store [Removed]

Tuesday April 16, 2024 11:33 am PDT by
The first approved Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) emulator for the iPhone and iPad was made available on the App Store today following Apple's rule change. The emulator is called Bimmy, and it was developed by Tom Salvo. On the App Store, Bimmy is described as a tool for testing and playing public domain/"homebrew" games created for the NES, but the app allows you to load ROMs for any...
iGBA Feature

Apple Removes Game Boy Emulator iGBA From App Store Due to Spam and Copyright Violations

Sunday April 14, 2024 9:22 pm PDT by
Apple today said it removed Game Boy emulator iGBA from the App Store for violating the company's App Review Guidelines related to spam (section 4.3) and copyright (section 5.2), but it did not provide any specific details. iGBA was a copycat version of developer Riley Testut's open-source GBA4iOS app. The emulator rose to the top of the App Store charts following its release this weekend,...
iOS 18 Siri Integrated Feature

Apple's First AI Features in iOS 18 Reportedly Won't Use Cloud Servers

Sunday April 14, 2024 9:52 am PDT by
Apple's first set of new AI features planned for iOS 18 will not rely on cloud servers at all, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. "As the world awaits Apple's big AI unveiling on June 10, it looks like the initial wave of features will work entirely on device," said Gurman, in the Q&A section of his Power On newsletter today. "That means there's no cloud processing component to the...
m3 mbp space black

M4 Macs Are Expected to Launch in This Order Starting Later This Year

Sunday April 14, 2024 10:40 am PDT by
Bloomberg's Mark Gurman recently reported that the first Macs with M4 series chips will be released later this year, with more models to follow next year. In his Power On newsletter today, Gurman shared a more specific roadmap for these Macs. Here is the order in which Gurman expects the Macs to launch:1. A low-end 14-inch MacBook Pro with the M4, coming around the end of 2024. 2. A 24-inch ...
new best buy blue

Best Buy Opens Up Sitewide Sale With Record Low Prices on M3 MacBook Air, iPad, and Much More

Saturday April 13, 2024 7:41 am PDT by
Best Buy this weekend has a big sale on Apple MacBooks and iPads, including new all-time low prices on the M3 MacBook Air, alongside the best prices we've ever seen on MacBook Pro, iPad, and more. Some of these deals require a My Best Buy Plus or My Best Buy Total membership, which start at $49.99/year. In addition to exclusive access to select discounts, you'll get free 2-day shipping, an...