Coal fuels much of Internet ‘cloud,’ Greenpeace says

* Tech groups should lobby more for clean power-Greenpeace

* Companies focus most on building efficient data centers

* Cloud computing energy use would be 5th in world if a
country

By Peter Henderson

SAN FRANCISCO, March 29 (BestGrowthStock) – The ‘cloud’ of data
that is becoming the heart of the Internet is creating an
all-too-real cloud of pollution as Facebook, Apple and others
build data centers powered by coal, Greenpeace said in a new
report to be released on Tuesday.

A Facebook facility being built in Oregon will rely on a
utility whose main fuel is coal, while Apple Inc (Read more about Apple stock future.) (AAPL.O: ) is
building a data warehouse in a North Carolina region that
relies mostly on coal, the environmental organization said in
the study.

“The last thing we need is for more cloud infrastructure to
be built in places where it increases demand for dirty
coal-fired power,” said Greenpeace, which argues that Web
companies should be more careful about where they build and
should lobby more in Washington for clean energy.

The growing mass of business data, home movies and pictures
has ballooned beyond the capabilities of many corporate data
centers and personal computers, spurring the creation of
massive server farms that make up a “cloud,” an emerging
phenomenon known as cloud computing.

The Greenpeace report comes during a global debate whether
to create caps or other measures to cut use of carbon-heavy
fuels like coal and curb climate change.

Cheap and plentiful, coal is the top fuel for U.S. power
plants, and its low cost versus alternative fuels makes it
attractive, even in highly energy-efficient data centers.

Apple, Facebook, Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O: ), Yahoo Inc
(YHOO.O: ) and Google Inc (Read more about Google Stock Analysis)(GOOG.O: ) have at least some centers that
rely heavily on coal power, said Greenpeace.

PURSUING ENERGY EFFICIENCY

Most of the companies declined to give details of their
data centers to Reuters. All said, however, they considered the
environment in business decisions, and most said they were
aggressively pursuing energy efficiency.

High technology companies say they support the environment.
Apple has released its carbon footprint, or how much greenhouse
gases it produces, and Facebook said it chose the location for
its center to use natural means to cool its machines.

Microsoft said it aimed to maximize efficiency, and Google
said it purchased carbon offsets — funding for projects which
suck up carbon — for emissions, including at data centers.

Yahoo, which is building a center near Buffalo, New York,
that Greenpeace saw as a model, will get energy from
hydroelectric facilities. The company said energy-efficiency
was the top goal, with a building design that promotes air
circulation.

Data center energy use already is huge, Greenpeace said.

If considered as a country, global telecommunications and
data centers behind cloud computing would have ranked fifth in
the world for energy use in 2007, behind the United States,
China, Russia and Japan, it concluded.

The cloud may be the fastest-growing facet of technology
infrastructure between now and 2020, said Greenpeace.

The group based its findings on a mix of data, including a
federal review of fuels in U.S. zip codes in 2005 and a 2008
study by the Climate Group and the Global e-Sustainability
Initiative, which Greenpeace updated in part with U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency data.

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(Editing by Philip Barbara)
(for more environmental news see our Environment blog at
http://blogs.reuters.com/environment)

Coal fuels much of Internet ‘cloud,’ Greenpeace says