Public-cloud giant Amazon Web Services, along with Netflix and Samsung, is still lagging in its use of renewable energy, Greenpeace USA concluded in a new 102-page report, “Clicking Clean: Who is Winning the Race to Build a Green Internet?”
In contrast, companies including Apple, Facebook and Google are moving the fastest toward 100 percent renewable energy, said the report, which was released today. It outlines the energy footprints of large data-center operators and nearly 70 of the most popular websites and applications. Data centers are a major consumer of electricity.
“Amazon continues to talk a good game on renewables but is keeping its customers in the dark on its energy decisions,” said Greenpeace USA senior IT analyst Gary Cook in a release. “This is concerning, particularly as Amazon expands into markets served by dirty energy.”
Netflix has one of the largest data footprints of the companies profiled, accounting for 33 percent of internet traffic in North America and contributing significantly to the worldwide data demand from video streaming. The company announced in 2015 that it intended to fully offset its carbon footprint, but a closer examination “reveals it is likely turning to carbon offsets or unbundled renewable energy credits, which do little to increase renewable-energy investment,” Greenpeace USA said.
But the report appears inconsistent. If credits and offsets are to be deprecated, it’s public-cloud providers Microsoft (with Azure) and Google (with Google Cloud) that would seem likely to suffer the most criticism. Both rely heavily on those mechanisms. In contrast, AWS is striving to increase its own local production of renewable energy, having built five wind farms in the U.S.
Yet in assigning major companies letter grades for their use of renewable energy, Greenpeace gave Amazon a C, Google an A and Microsoft a B. In its 2015 report, Greenpeace gave Amazon an F.
Google has said it will achieve 100 percent renewable power by next year. Amazon wants to be using 50 percent renewable power by the end of this year, and Microsoft is aiming for 50 percent by the end of 2018.