Five New Amazon Projects Add 615 MW of Utility-Scale Solar

(Photo: Solar panels on an Amazon facility. Credit: Amazon)

by | May 22, 2020

Five New Amazon Projects Add 615 MW of Utility-Scale Solar

(Photo: Solar panels on an Amazon facility. Credit: Amazon)

Amazon plans on adding five new utility-scale solar projects to power its global operations in China, Australia, and the United States. The company expects these projects to add 615 megawatts of renewable capacity, generating 1.2 million megawatt-hours annually.

Worldwide Amazon already has 91 renewable energy projects with the capacity to generate more than 2.9 gigawatts, delivering more than 7.6 million MWh of energy annually. The company previously committed to meeting the Paris Agreement 10 years early and reach net zero carbon by 2040.

The five new utility-scale solar facilities include Amazon’s first renewable energy project in China, a 100-MW site in Shandong. A 105-MW project is being planned for Australia in New South Wales. The other three projects are all in the United States. Two in Ohio are set for 200 MW and 80 MW, and another in Virginia will be 130 MW, the company said.

Earlier this year, Amazon announced investments in renewable energy projects that included the 60-MW Gunnedah solar farm in New South Wales, a 50-MW solar farm in Zaragoza, Spain, a 122-MW offshore wind project in Västernorrland, Sweden, and a 65-MW solar project in Halifax County, Virginia.

“We believe it is possible to reach 100% renewable energy by 2025, five years ahead of the goals we announced last fall,” said Kara Hurst, Amazon’s vice president of sustainability.

Environmental Criticism Persists

Although the tech giant has made significant investments in renewable energy, Amazon faces ongoing environmental criticism for some of its practices. In April 2019, more than 6,000 Amazon employees signed a letter urging the company to release a comprehensive climate plan, saying that existing sustainability practices were lacking.

Numerous workers participated in the Global Climate Strike last September, pressuring the company to reach zero emissions by 2030, start using electric delivery vehicles, and end contracts with the fossil fuel companies that use Amazon’s technology products. The same month, founder and CEO Jeff Bezos said he was “done being in the middle of the herd” on climate action and committed Amazon to becoming net zero carbon by 2040.

More recently Greenpeace called out Amazon — along with Google and Microsoft — in a report called “Oil in the Cloud: How Tech Companies are Helping Big Oil Profit from Climate Destruction.” In response, Google agreed to stop building custom AI/ML algorithms to facilitate upstream extraction in the oil and gas industry. Amazon’s corporate website indicated that the company would continue providing cloud services to energy companies.

The Greenpeace report said that subsidiary Amazon Web Services “has been deliberate in its efforts to attract oil and gas industry cloud customers, including its headlining of the oil industry conference CERAWeek in 2019, alongside Microsoft. Until April 2020, AWS had a dedicated website to attract oil and gas businesses.” Greenpeace also described Amazon as the least transparent of the major tech companies when it comes to reporting data about its energy use.

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