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Internet companies leading others toward green energy

Staff Writer |
Apple retains its leadership spot for the third year in a row among platform operators, according to Greenpeace's Clean Energy Index.

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Both Apple and Google continue to lead the sector in matching their growth with an equivalent or larger supply of renewable energy, and both companies continue to use their influence to push governments as well as their utility and IT sector vendors to increase access to renewable energy for their operations.

Switch, new to the Clicking Clean report this year, scored among the highest for any class of company and is the definitive leader among colocation operators for its efforts to transition its data center fleet to renewables as fast as possible through a combination of renewable energy procurement and aggressive advocacy.

Major internet companies’ leadership has been a catalyst in driving a broader set of corporations to adopt 100% renewable goals, contributing to a dramatic increase in renewable deals in the U.S. signed directly by corporations, totally 3.4GW of renewable deals signed in 2015, with over two-thirds of this power from renewable deals by IT companies.

Cloud computing market leader Amazon Web Services (AWS) took some important steps in the past year, including promising leadership in supporting clean energy policy.

But given AWS’s continued lack of transparency and its rapid growth in Virginia and other markets largely served by dirty energy, it remains unclear whether the AWS cloud is actually on a path to becoming renewably powered.

Video streaming is a tremendous driver of data demand, with 63% of global internet traffic in 2015, and is projected to reach 80% by 2020.7 Netflix alone already accounts for over one-third of internet traffic in North America8 and is in the midst of a worldwide expansion.

The transition to the cloud could in fact increase the demand for coal and other fossil fuels despite significant gains in energy efficiency and adoption of a commitment to 100% renewable energy because of the dramatic growth in new data center construction by cloud and colocation companies such as AWS and Digital Realty in Virginia and other hot spots that have some of the lowest percentages of renewable electricity in the U.S.

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