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Apple datacenters the most environmentally friendly in tech, says Greenpeace

The solar cell installation at Apple's Maiden, NC datacenter. | Source: Apple

Apple is "the most innovative and most aggressive" company in Silicon Valley when it comes to identifying ways to feed its power-hungry datacenters with renewable energy, according to a new report from environmental watchdog Greenpeace.

The iPhone maker scored an 'A' for energy transparency, commitment to renewable energy, and deployment thanks in large part to the fuel cell installation and solar farm at its datacenter in Maiden, N.C. Apple recorded a 'B' in the sole remaining category, energy efficiency and mitigation.

Greenpeace praised Apple for helping pressure local utilities to begin offering renewable options for buying energy, still a rarity even as environmental consciousness grows among consumers. All of the electricity not generated by Apple for its datacenters is purchased from through utilities from renewable sources, including geothermal plants for its newest location in Nevada and wind energy in California and Oregon.

"Apple's aggressive pursuit of its commitment to power the iCloud with 100% renewable energy has given the company the inside track among the IT sector's leaders in building a green Internet," Greenpeace wrote. "Apple has made good on its pledge by building the largest privately owned solar farms at its North Carolina data center, working with its utility in Nevada to power its upcoming data center there with solar and geothermal energy, and purchasing wind energy for its Oregon and California data centers."

Apple has improved its standing with Greenpeace significantly since the organization's last datacenter energy report in 2012. At that time, Apple was panned for relying largely on fossil fuels for power, scoring Ds and Fs in every category.

The company still has some room to improve in Greenpeace's eyes, however. The organization would like to see Apple contribute some of its energy findings back to the tech industry as a whole, saying that "sharing more detail about Apple's energy efficient designs would help the IT sector to learn from, and improve upon, Apple's best efficiency practices."