Friday, April 27, 2012

Apples, coal and hydrogen

It would however be wrong to make a shortcut and assume that the data centers of these companies are perfectly dirty: they are not unique, but the reality is somewhat more nuanced. While Greenpeace tackles specifically to Apple, Microsoft and Amazon, and the case study that we know best, that of Apple.
In Prineville, the company will focus on passive cooling to consume as little as possible, and has already indicated that its data center would be "green" it will make great use of photovoltaics for minimize reliance on the grid using the same local strategy. Apple Maiden: its data center utilizes passive cooling (air and water), to turn off the central system 75% of the time. It's going to implement a solar array producing high efficiency 20 MW and will settle the largest fuel cell power plant in the United States to produce 4.8 MW more. Not enough according to Greenpeace, which awards an F to Apple on the matter: these efforts are a smokescreen and cover "10%" needs of data center of Maiden.

If Greenpeace's work is dense, informative and extremely well documented, however it is crossed by the usual defects of the NGO: it is based solely on the corporate returns, and when they are absent, as is always the case with Apple, so she believes.

In this case, the estimate of Greenpeace is very misleading: the NGO has established a measurement according to "conservative" than the data center consumes 100 Maiden million watts at full capacity. According to Apple, which reacted immediately, it actually consumes five times less, or 20 million watts - for comparison, Google's data centers consume about 260 million watts. In the medium term, half of the energy needed to power the data center of Maiden would be produced locally, and almost two thirds would be from renewable sources. In addition, Apple uses Akamai's services to distribute its content, a company which is renowned for its transparency in environmental performance. Figures provided by Greenpeace are erroneous, but the fault is shared here with Apple, who had not deigned to answer questions from the NGO. 

 Greenpeace has nonetheless decided to organize demonstrations more or less fantastic, as is her habit. She has held this afternoon the roof of the Apple offices in Cork (Ireland) and distributed leaflets to employees. In the wake of Apple's specifications, these leaflets are much more measured and can hardly be disputed: they recognize more clearly the progress made by Apple's adoption of renewable energy, but require the company to promote settlements in areas using little coal, to be more transparent, to campaign for cleaner energy sources, and to influence its suppliers to do the same.

Communication and ecology

Even if it is at the very beginning of the path, we must recognize the efforts of Apple's environmental responsibility: not particularly happy to have reduced the impact of its products, it intends to be at the forefront of the use of renewable energy to supply the data centers. If we had to blame one thing to Greenpeace, is to have again yielded to the temptation of a good grip with minimal progress, and relying too much on a declarative approach - the shot was nevertheless rectified TODAY ' Today. 

 It takes more than acknowledge the role of environmental NGO, fantastic spur that has probably pushed Apple to be a little more transparent on these issues (she has dedicated part of its site to these questions), and to make efforts in the removal of toxic materials or in reducing the consumption of these products. If the Cupertino Company has progressed and is in the middle, it should nevertheless not be taken for granted throughout his speech: it is not quite clear on the subject. At the head of a formidable reserve of money, you could also want it to invest more than others in the field. Left to boast about being green, Apple could become really, and probably more than any other.

With this new report, there is the strange paradox of communication on ecology: Greenpeace as Apple say that each side wants to hear and take to cover them, without finally that the facts are always fully transcribed. We assume that this is the game for these ideas are progressing and finally won ... but maybe too late.

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