10 Gigawatts: Amazon Hits Milestone in Renewable Energy Purchasing – Data Center Frontier

A large solar array on the roof of an Amazon distribution center. (Image: Amazon)











Amazon has announced 14 new renewable energy projects in the U.S., Canada, Finland, and Spain, bringing Amazon’s total renewable energy investments to date to 10 gigawatts (GW) of electricity production capacity. Amazon says it has now surpassed Google as the world’s largest corporate buyer of renewable energy.

The new purchases advance Amazon’s goal to power 100% of company activities with renewable energy by 2025. It also provides a fresh reminder of the huge role of cloud computing platforms in leading a society-wide transition to renewable energy.

The latest solar and wind projects will supply renewable energy for Amazon Web Services (AWS) data centers that support millions of customers globally, as well as Amazon’s corporate offices,
and fulfillment centers. These projects will also help Amazon meet its commitment to produce enough renewable energy to cover the electricity used by all Echo (Alexa) devices in use.

“Our investments in wind and solar energy in the U.S. and around the world send a signal that investing in green technologies is the right thing to do for the planet and citizens—as well as for the long-term success of businesses of all sizes across all industries everywhere,” said Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO.

Amazon will now have a total of 232 renewable energy projects globally, including 85 utility-scale wind and solar projects and 147 solar rooftops on facilities and stores worldwide. The 14 new wind and solar projects include:

  • 11 U.S.-based projects, including Amazon’s first solar projects in Arkansas, Mississippi, and Pennsylvania, and additional projects in Illinois, Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio. In total, Amazon has enabled more than 6 GW of renewable energy in the U.S. through 54 projects.
  • Amazon’s second renewable energy project in Alberta is a 375-megawatt (MW) solar farm—which is also the largest in the country. When it comes online in 2022, the solar farm will bring Amazon’s capacity in Canada to more than 1 million megawatt hours (MWh).
  • Amazon’s first project in Finland is a 52-MW wind farm located near the country’s west coast. The project is expected to begin producing energy in 2022.
  • Amazon’s fifth solar project in Spain will generate 152 MW when it begins contributing power to the grid in 2023, bringing total capacity in the country to more than 520 MW.

Sector-Wide Leadership on Green Energy Adoption

Cloud computing has emerged as a surprising force for the commercialization of renewable energy at Internet scale, with Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Apple and Switch sourcing renewable energy to power their cloud data centers. This usually happens through utility-scale power purchase agreements (PPAs), with hyperscale operators buying the output of generators of solar and wind power, bringing new renewable energy onto the grids supporting their data centers.

This week’s additional solar and wind projects at Amazon were welcomed by the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance (REBA), which has been working closely with corporate buyers – including many companies in the data center sector – to boost adoption of green power.

“A new level of ambition across the private sector is necessary to accelerate decarbonization of the power system. Amazon’s leadership in investing and adopting renewable energy around the world paves the way for new innovation, and the ability to scale at the pace needed to address the real threats to the planet, people, and businesses posed by climate change,” said Miranda Ballentine, CEO of Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance (REBA).

Amazon is hardly alone in building on its sustainability initiatives.

  • This week Oracle said its growing Oracle Cloud network would be completely powered by renewable energy by 2025, along with all of the company’s non-cloud operations.  “Relying on renewable energy is an important step toward a more sustainable future,” said Oracle Chief Executive Officer Safra Catz. “Oracle will always make its biggest impact on the environment by providing customers with technology that enables them to reduce their carbon footprint, but this new goal reflects the shared values of our customers, partners and investors.”
  • Equinix announced that it is committed to becoming climate-neutral and has set a science-based target (SBT) for emissions reduction across its global operations and supply chain by 2030. To date, Equinix has issued $3.7 billion in green bonds toward environmentally sustainable projects across green buildings, renewable energy, energy and water efficiency, waste and clean transportation.

At Data Center Frontier we have been closely tracking the data center industry’s adoption of renewable energy in our Sustainability Channel. Here’s a look at some of our coverage from the last 12 months:

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The Sustainability Imperative: Green Data Centers and Our Cloudy Future:  The data center industry can be a catalyst for action on climate change, advancing sustainability and adoption of renewable energy. Customers are demanding it, and the planet needs it. A Data Center Frontier Special Report series.

Podcast: Can Cloud Computing Lead the Way on Climate? : When it comes to climate change, it is time for the data center sector to lead. On the DCF Show Podcast, Rich Miller outlines how cloud computing can drive a global shift to renewably-powered business.

Vantage Data Centers Expands Green Power Options for Customers: Vantage Data Centers now offers access to renewable energy options at each of its North American and European campuses to help customers reduce carbon emissions, and has expanded its sustainability team.

Iron Mountain Adds Hourly Renewable Energy Tracking for its Data Centers: Iron Mountain will begin tracking the hourly renewable content of the energy used in several of its data centers, reflecting the growing enterprise interest in the sustainability of their IT supply chain.

Digital Realty Steps Up Its Renewable Initiatives: Digital Realty will work with The Science-Based Targets Initiative to ensure that its sustainability program adapts to the full scope and urgency of the global climate challenge. The company operates 267 data centers around the globe.

Dominion Energy Plans More Green Power for Virginia’s Data Centers 
Dominion Energy is developing more renewable energy for its power grid, a welcome development for tech companies seeking more green power for their data centers in Northern Virginia.

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