Facebook and renewable energy

Greenpeace is an organisation that’s not afraid to constructively criticise the cool kids. They’ve criticised Apple computers before for their use of toxic materials in their hardware, ranking them near the bottom of their first Guide to Greener Electronics.

Apple has since responded positively to the criticism, and improved to 5th in the latest rankings, behind leaders Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Toshiba and Philips.

Now it’s Facebook’s turn. Facebook is planning a data centre in the US state of Oregon. And Greenpeace are at them for “choosing coal” over renewable energy. The provider they’ve chosen uses more coal energy than the US average, and Greenpeace would like them to choose renewable energy instead. Facebook, as Apple were, is indignant, and have responded by claiming that their choice of data centre allows them to be highly-energy efficient, and that it’s unfair to claim that they choose coal, as their data centre chooses the provider from which to buy electricity.

You can be sure, however, that Facebook and other large organisations have been paying closer attention than usual to where they get their energy from. And that pressure is being placed on electricity providers to supply more renewably-generated energy.

And for those who haven’t yet left Facebook in disgust, join our Facebook group!

The South African situation
Unfortunately, South Africans can’t choose a provider. We’re stuck with Eskom, and that means coal. Koeberg and nuclear power are next, providing a small portion, and renewable sources barely feature.

In spite of the progressive feed-in-tariffs instituted recently, Eskom is barely paying lip-service to renewable energy, and continues to look at new coal power stations, ensuring a legacy of toxic mercury for those unfortunate enough to live near them.

For those interested, we host our server in Denmark, thanks mainly to the high bandwidth prices here. Denmark happens to have one of the highest proportions of renewably-generated energy from its widespread wind turbines.

Now if only South Africa could get going on solar, after a scorching week like this past week, we’d far outstrip Denmark!

To order, head on over to www.ethical.org.za

Have a great week,
Ian and the Ethical Co-op team