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Greenpeace slams Apple's iCloud for relying 'heavily on dirty energy'

A new report from Greenpeace accuses Apple of lagging behind other technology companies, such as Facebook and Google, in utilizing environmentally friendly power for its cloud-based services.

The new report issued on Tuesday, entitled "How Clean is Your Cloud?," pans Apple's iCloud service for relying largely on coal-based power. Apple was lumped in with Amazon and Microsoft as companies that Greenpeace claims "rely heavily on dirty energy to power their clouds."

"Instead of playing catch up, Apple has the ingenuity, on-hand cash and innovative spirit to Think Different and make substantial improvements in the type of energy that powers its cloud," the report reads.

Greenpeace ranked Apple poorly in four different categories that the company was graded on, earning a 'D' for transparency, 'F' for infrastructure siting, 'D' for energy efficiency and GHG mitigation, and 'D' for renewable energy investment and advocacy.

The environmental organization also dismissed Apple's 20-megawatt solar array that will help power its server farm in North Carolina. Greenpeace said that although "much has been made" of the solar farm, it will only account for 10 percent of their total power generation for the data center.

Greenpeace views the iCloud data center in Maiden, N.C. as "a good first step," but believes that the company should do more to reduce its reliance on "dirty energy."

"If Apple is really interested in having the 'high percentage' of renewable energy it claims to want for the iCloud, it will have to look beyond the initial steps for on-site generation and use its tremendous cash reserves to invest in or purchase renewable energy and also to put pressure on Duke Energy to provide cleaner energy," the report reads.

Duke Energy is the primary utility company for the western part of North Carolina where Apple's iCloud data center is located. Greenpeace has criticized Duke's reliance on "dirty coal plants" to provide power to facilities like Apple's.

Tuesday's report isn't the first time Greenpeace has called out Apple's data center in North Carolina. A year ago, the organization's "dirty Data" report rated Apple has having the lowest Clean Energy Index and the highest Coal Intensity among companies like Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Amazon.

Apple actually went down in the rankings this year for transparency, as last year the company was given a grade of 'C' in that category by Greenpeace. But this year Apple earned a 'D,' as the environmental group feels that Apple only offers "nuggets of detail and data that it feels are most favorable," while declining to reveal less flattering information.