Tech giant Apple is planning a solar power data centre, whilst internet superpower Google is to invest millions in renewable energy technologies. Alex Blackburne finds out how more companies with similar global influence should follow the pair’s lead.
Apple and Google – two of the world’s largest and most powerful organisations – are individually taking steps to make their businesses more environmentally-friendly.
The Apple iPhone is the world’s best-selling mobile phone, with nearly 20 million devices sold every three months. The fact that it’s insulting to call it simply a mobile phone, shows the technological advancements the late Steve Jobs and company have made at the forefront of the industry.
Meanwhile, Google is unequivocally regarded as the world leaders in internet searches (amongst other things), with the organisation’s name now in the Oxford English Dictionary as a verb, meaning its place at the top of the pile is almost undefeatable.
The two companies certainly don’t lack power, influence and respect in their sectors, which is why both have taken steps to modify and revitalise their business models to prove that they are also at the forefront of a global environmental movement as well.
Earlier this year, Greenpeace released a comprehensive report named How dirty is your data?. In the report, that assessed the environmental impact of some of the world’s largest companies, including Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft and Google, they placed Apple, who then had a heavy reliance on “dirty”, coal-fired data centres, at the bottom of the league table.
The report clearly provided Apple with a stark realisation about the way it worked because, in an attempt to rejuvenate its environmental reputation, it is now planning to convert its 121 acre, $1 billion North Carolinian data centre from coal to solar power.
Apple chiefs have been predictably secretive about the plans up to now, with the news only released to the world when work crews began clearing the site by burning the greenery, forcing nearby homeowners to complain to the local council.
Mirroring Apple’s innovative step forwards in the environmental sector, Google announced this week that it will be scrapping its renewable energy research and development department in favour of straight investment – $850m worth – into renewable energy technologies.
Tucked away at the bottom of a blog entry post modestly entitled ‘More spring cleaning out of season’, the internet supremo explained the reasoning for its decision.
“At this point, other institutions are better positioned than Google to take this [renewable energy] research to the next level. So we’ve published our results to help others in the field continue to advance the state of power tower technology, and we’ve closed our efforts.
“We will continue our work to generate cleaner, more efficient energy—including our on-campus efforts, procuring renewable energy for our data centers [sic], making our data centers [sic] even more efficient and investing more than $850 million in renewable energy technologies.”
Although both Apple and Google have reached the top of the respective fields through innovation and invention, and not for their environmental consciousness, it’s refreshing to see them both striving to change their ways.
There is obviously still a long way to go for the pair before they become 100% sustainable, but their place as leaders of the pack is undoubted. If they can lead by example in order to help to save the planet, and subsequently influence other organisations to do the same, then our hopes for a sustainable future might just be realised.
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