AWS Customers Demand Transparency On Energy Use

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Tumblr, Hootsuite amongst AWS cloud customers who want to know more about company plans to commit to sustainability practices

Several Amazon Web Services customers have sent an open letter requesting the online retailer’s cloud computing division divulge more information about its renewable energy usage.

Tumblr, Hootsuite and Change.org are among the customers featuring on the letter, addressed to Andrew Jassy, Amazon’s senior vice president of web services.

The letter pleads with AWS to commit to transparency on energy and environmental performance, including publishing information describing AWS’ energy and carbon footprints and progress toward renewable energy goals.

Renewable goals

“It is currently difficult for us to measure our energy footprints or progress toward sustainability goals, or to know what sources of energy are powering our operations, since AWS does not publish that data or provide it to us for public use,” reads the letter.

“Because of these shared concerns around climate change, we have been excited to see that Amazon Web Services has made a long-term commitment to achieve 100% renewable energy for its global infrastructure footprint. We were further encouraged to read about AWS’ purchase of wind energy in Indiana, and to see that AWS has set a goal of being 40% renewably powered by the end of 2016. We’re writing to encourage you and AWS to keep going with your new commitment.”

awsThe letter then outlines steps that the customers think AWS can take to improve its energy communications.

These include publishing information describing AWS’ energy and carbon footprints and progress toward renewable energy goals, AWS sharing strategies for increasing the supply of renewable electricity across your footprint, and AWS providing “clarity” on principles for how it defines renewable energy.

TechWeekEurope has asked AWS to comment on the matter but has not yet received a reply at the time of publication.

Greenpeace

In May, a Greenpeace report lambasted Amazon for not being transparent. The report, called ‘Clicking Green’, said: “Amazon’s adoption of a 100 percent renewable energy goal, while potentially significant, lacks basic transparency and, unlike similar commitments from Apple, Facebook or Google, does not yet appear to be guiding Amazon’s investment decisions toward renewable energy and away from coal.”

The report also predicts that by 2017, the electricity consumption of our smartphones, tablets and laptops, along with the networks and data centres which power them, will account for 12 percent of global electricity consumption.

Greenpeace said it is up to large companies such as Amazon and its rivals, especially those who run large data centres, to lead the charge against climate change.

In January, AWS announced plans to build a 150 megawatt wind farm in the US to help the firm reach its renewable energy quotas in its future data centre operations. Dubbed the Amazon Web Services Wind Farm (Fowler Ridge), the facility will generate up to 500,000 megawatt hours (MWh) of wind power annually by January 2016.

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