Apple, Facebook and Google are to lead a growing number of technology companies that are working to power the Internet with 100 percent renewable energy, signaling a major shift in the sector over the past two years, according to a new report released today by Greenpeace. Those companies are leaving behind Amazon Web Services, the company which hosts the data for many of the Internet’s most popular services and powers its infrastructure with polluting energy sources that contribute to global warming, the report found.
The report, “Clicking Clean: How Companies are Creating the Green Internet,”  details the immense power that technology companies have either to drive a renewable energy revolution, or to chain the new digital economy to old, polluting sources of power. The stakes are high: if the Internet were a country, its electricity demand would currently rank sixth, according to the report. Estimates from the industry expect Internet data to triple from 2012 to 2017.
Apple, Facebook and Google are powering our online lives with clean energy, and building a greener offline world for everyone in the process,” said Gary Cook, Greenpeace Senior IT Analyst. “These companies have proven over the past 24 months that wind and solar energy are ready and waiting to power the Internet, and the rest of our economy, with clean electricity,” Cook said.
Greenpeace evaluated the energy choices of 19 leading Internet companies, surveying their electricity supply chains of over 300 data centers.  Five of those companies have committed to a goal of powering their operations with 100 % renewable energy.
Apple became the first company to achieve its 100 % renewable energy goal to power its iCloud, leading the companies evaluated with its Clean Energy Index of 100 %. Apple is operating the largest privately owned solar installation in the US at its North Carolina data center.
“Apple’s rapid shift to renewable energy over the past 24 months has made it clear why it’s one of the world’s most innovative and popular companies,” Cook said. “By continuing to buy dirty energy, Amazon Web Services not only can’t seem to keep up with Apple, but is dragging much of the internet down with it.”
Facebook flexed its muscles to push its utility in Iowa, MidAmerican Energy, to power its data center there with wind energy. MidAmerican responded by investing $1.9 billion in wind power generation, placing the world’s largest-ever order of onshore wind turbines in part to meet the social network’s demands.
Google has pioneered the use of power purchase agreements for wind energy to provide electricity for its services like Gmail and YouTube.
Google, Apple and Facebook all pushed Duke Energy, the largest utility in the US, to offer new renewable energy options for large electricity buyers in North Carolina.
Amazon Web Services, which hosts a large part of the Internet, including popular companies like Pinterest, Netflix, Spotify, Tumblr, AirBnB, Yelp and Vine, currently sources only 15 % of its electricity demand with clean energy.  Coal powers 28 % of the company’s cloud, nuclear 27 %, and gas 25 %.  Amazon’s growth is fueling the increased use and construction of coal and gas-burning power plants in Virginia, and has jeopardized clean energy growth in Oregon.  While companies like Apple, Facebook and eBay have led the broader sector to be more transparent about its energy use, Amazon steadfastly refuses to reveal any details about its energy footprint to its customers or the public.
Twitter also does not share any details about its energy footprint, and has made no efforts to procure cleaner electricity, in stark contrast to its social media rival Facebook.
Fast growing business-to-business companies Rackspace and Salesforce joined Apple, Facebook and Google in 2012 in committing to a goal of powering their operations with 100 % renewable energy.
Rackspace's UK data center runs on 100% renewables as will Salesforce's new UK data center opening in 2014. Next Generation Data runs a large 40MW data center in Newport using 100% renewable energy, and British Telecom, which operates numerous UK data centers has signed a utility contract for 100% renewable energy.
Greenpeace assessed colocation data center companies, which rent out data center space to customers, for the first time in “Clicking Clean,” finding that they use low amounts of renewable energy; most also lacked transparency about their energy footprints.
Greenpeace is calling on all major Internet companies to:
•Make a long-term commitment to become 100% renewably powered.
•Commit to transparency on IT performance and consumption of resources, including the source of electricity, to enable customers, investors, and stakeholders to measure progress toward that goal.
•Develop a strategy for increasing their supply of renewable energy, through a mixture of procurement, investment, and corporate advocacy to both electricity suppliers and government decision-makers.
 Report available at: http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/
 For 2012 “How Clean is Your Cloud?” report, see http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/publications/Campaign-reports/Climate-Reports/How-Clean-is-Your-Cloud/.
 For a list of many Amazon Web Services customers, see: http://aws.amazon.com/solutions/case-studies/all/. Tumblr: http://venturebeat.com/2012/02/14/cloud-burn-rate-tumblr-backend-architecture-amazon/; Vine: http://tech.firstpost.com/news-analysis/amazon-web-service-outage-affects-both-instagram-and-vine-214876.html
 Greenpeace provided AWS with facility power demand estimates to review. AWS responded that the estimates were not correct, but did not provide alternative data. Using conservative calculations, Greenpeace has used the best information available to derive power demand. Greenpeace invites AWS to be transparent and provide more accurate data for its facility power demands.
 See “Where the Cloud Touches the Ground” in “Clicking Clean”, Ch. 7.