In some circles, 2010 has been lovingly dubbed, “Year of the Cloud.” But on Earth Day 2010, none other than Greenpeace is claiming that the cloud is anything but “green.” In fact the cloud is most likely a dirty brown because cloud computing with its exponential device growth is building a bigger carbon footprint every step of the way. To quote directly from the report, “At current growth rates, data centers and telecommunication networks, the two key components of the cloud, will consume about 1,963 billion kilowatts hours of electricity in 2020, more than triple their current consumption and over half the current electricity consumption of the United States — or more than France, Germany, Canada and Brazil — combined.” It isn’t clear whether that’s France, Germany, Canada and Brazil’s consumption now or their predicted consumption in 2020.
Greenpeace, which has often been controversial on its own, is encouraging the IT industry to become models for green technology and renewable energy. While Michael Dell is highlighted for saying IT can drive a green economy, Facebook and Apple are among companies receiving a less than favorable rating. Facebook is building a new data center in Prineville, Oregon where it committed to PacificCorp as its power provider. But Greenpeace claims that this power company mainly uses coal, and the coal is not clean. Yahoo on the other hand is building its data center near Buffalo, NY where it has agreed to use hydro power. It could be a case of – our data center being greener than your data center. Apple and Google are building data centers in North Carolina where again the power will come from coal. Last year Greenpeace launched its “CoolIT” campaign aimed at influencing tech companies to – Cool it with earth-friendly approaches to all aspects of the cloud.