Cloud computing has been hailed as the best way to provide any data to any gadget at any time. Unfortunately, all this ubiquity comes at a cost—the data centers that store, send and receive all of that data consume a lot of energy, most of it from fossil fuels.
Apple has been targeted by Greenpeace as one of the worst offenders. But Apple is trying to shake its image as a dirty data-provider. The company plans to power at least part of its new $1 billion data center in North Carolina using a massive solar array located on about 170 acres of nearby land. The solar panels could produce 20 megawatts of energy. Apple also claims to be building a five-megawatt, biogas-powered fuel cell near the data center, according to BusinessGreen.com.
Big data companies like Apple, eBay, Google and Facebook are trying to increase their use of renewable energy out of necessity. They need to. Greenpeace estimates that the world's cloud computing data centers combined were the fifth largest consumer of electricity in 2007, behind the U.S., China, Russia and Japan.
[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]