However Amazon and Twitter are letting the side down when it comes to saving the planet, says Greenpeace.
Greenpeace has revealed which of the world’s biggest technology companies are effectively utilising green energy to power their web services.
The charity’s latest name and shame report, entitled ‘Clicking Clean: How Companies are Creating the Green Internet’, ranked Apple as the company most in touch with its green side, but marked down Amazon and Twitter for their energy policies.
Using information provided by 19 leading technology companies and utilities to estimate how much of a company’s online infrastructure is based on renewable energy, Greenpeace established a ‘Clean Energy Index’, which it used to rank the businesses (a full list of which can be found below). Data centre use has exploded over the last decade as consumers purchase more and more connected devices, which consume and produce larger amounts of data than ever before.
The iPhone and iPad manufacture scored 100% in this Index, and used no coal, oil or gas energy sources in its data centre operations, leaving Greenpeace to declare that the company had "helped set a new bar for the industry". The company also received A grades for its efforts in transparency, renewable energy policy and renewable energy deployment.
This was a marked improvement on the D and F grades it received in the previous "How Green Is Your Cloud" report released in 2012, which led to a major PR campaign against Apple by the charity.
"Apple is the most improved company since our last full report," Greenpeace wrote, "and has shown itself to be the most innovative and most aggressive in pursuing its commitment to be 100% renewably powered."
Google and Facebook also scored highly in Greenpeace’s report, receiving A and B grades across the four rankings, with search giant praised for its leadership in adopting renewable energy policies and investment in green energy sources, both independently and through collaboration with its utility vendors.
Facebook was singled out for its commitment towards building a green Internet, with its recently-opened Iowa datacentre, which led to the largest ever purchase in wind turbines in the world, demonstrating the company’s green credentials.
At the other end of the spectrum, however, Amazon’s Web Services, which Greenpeace says operates at least 18 datacentres around the world, was singled out for being among the least committed to renewable energy, earning F grades in three out of Greenpeace’s four categories.
The company was noted as choosing to power its infrastructure "based solely on lowest electricity prices," and was slammed as having "refused to pay even lip service to sustainability and are simply buying dirty energy straight from the grid," said the report.
"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."
Amazon disputed Greenpeace’s assessment of its datacentre operations, telling Reuters that the report’s data and assumptions were inaccurate. The company said that datacentres in two of its main regions use "100% carbon-free power", but did not offer any further details.