Technology Apr 21

Tencent best of a bad bunch says Greenpeace clean energy report 

The environmental pressure group has ranked China’s big tech firms on their carbon commitments and energy use – and found only two of the 22 firms surveyed procure more than 3% of renewable energy 

by Sean OMeara
Tencent best of a bad bunch says Greenpeace clean energy report 
Internet firms now rank among the biggest corporate consumers of electricity. Photo: Reuters 

Tencent has been ranked as the greenest of China’s electricity-hungry internet firms by environmental pressure group Greenpeace.

A research report by the group revealed the gaming and social media giant was the best of an energy-sapping group of cloud services providers when it came to tackling carbon emissions and using energy from renewable sources.

Internet firms now rank among the biggest corporate consumers of electricity – and in China that means carbon-intensive coal-fired power – to keep their data centres humming around the clock.

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The environmental group has predicted that energy consumption by China's data centre industry will rise by two-thirds in the four years up to 2023, at which point the sector's total power use will equal the whole of Australia's.

Tencent had a positive record on transparency and had increased renewable energy procurement, Greenpeace claimed. The firm also announced in January it would work towards being carbon neutral, although it did not give a target date.

Huawei Technologies was ranked second and Baidu Inc third. Alibaba fell from first place last year to fourth with Greenpeace saying it had performed poorly in disclosing energy data and switching to renewable energy sources.

Alibaba said in a statement that it was committed to developing green data centres. "It is our ongoing mission to embed eco-friendliness to our technologies," it said.  

DATA CENTRES

The report analysed the performance of China's 22 largest cloud and data centre companies in areas such as renewable energy, energy efficiency and data transparency.  

Thirteen of those companies have begun to actively procure renewable energy, up from eight in 2019, but only Baidu and the Chindata Group have renewable energy usage rates higher than 3%, it said.

Greenpeace urged internet and data centre firms to aim for 100% renewable energy use and to become carbon neutral by the end of the decade.  

The Chindata Group is the only major Chinese firm to promise to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030, it said.

  • Reporting by Reuters

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