Greenpeace Chides Alibaba on Energy as China Tech Cleans Up


China’s tech giants are shifting slowly toward using more clean electricity to power their energy-hungry operations, Greenpeace found in its second review of the industry.

More of the country’s biggest tech companies are actively procuring renewable energy and disclosing energy consumption and emissions data, Greenpeace said in a report published Wednesday. Still, only two of 22 surveyed companies reported getting more than 3% of their power from carbon-free sources such as wind and solar.

Greenpeace blasted Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., China’s biggest tech company, and GDS Holdings Ltd., its largest independent data center operator, for not releasing emissions data or committing to more renewable energy use or a carbon neutrality target. Meanwhile data center operator ChinData Group Holdings Ltd. was lauded for procuring renewable energy for 51% of its power needs, signing contracts to develop 1.3 gigawatts of new wind and solar projects and committing to be carbon neutral by 2030.

More of China’s tech giants should be buying renewable power, especially in light of the country’s plans to reach net-zero emissions by 2060, Greenpeace researchers said in the report. China is home to almost a quarter of the world’s data centers, and they consume more power combined than all of Malaysia. In 2018, nearly three-quarters of that power came from coal, according to Greenpeace.

A spokesperson for Alibaba’s cloud operations said energy efficiency is at its core, and that the company has been committed to developing green data centers since 2015.

“It is our ongoing mission to embed eco-friendliness into our technologies,” the company said in a statement.

Thirteen of the 22 companies have begun actively spending on renewable energy as of this month, up from eight in 2019, Greenpeace said. Meanwhile half the companies are disclosing electricity consumption and emissions data, compared with about 20% in 2019.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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