Amazon has announced that it intends to power dozens of its fulfillment centers around the world with solar energy, with plans in place to deploy “large-scale solar systems” on the centers’ rooftops.
The company says that 15 fulfillment and sortation centers across the U.S. will receive the solar panels in 2017, generating up to 41 megawatts (MW) of power at the company’s facilities in New Jersey, California, Maryland, Delaware, and Nevada. Amazon says that it plans to introduce solar panels at 50 centers globally by 2020.
A few years back, a Greenpeace study of “clean” internet companies revealed that Amazon and its cloud-focused AWS business had a lot to improve on. The report noted:
AWS has dropped further and further behind its competitors in building an internet that runs on renewable sources of energy, estimated at only 15%, and is the least transparent of any company we evaluated.
However, Amazon has been upping its game in recent times and six months ago announced its biggest renewable energy project to date when it committed to a 253-megawatt Texas wind farm, which is due to open this year. That initiative was mostly about powering the company’s data centers — the latest solar power project is about powering the heart of Amazon’s consumer-focused commercial operations.
The company says that a specific solar installation could generate “as much as 80 percent of a single fulfillment facility’s annual energy needs,” though this will naturally depend on the time of year, among other environmental factors — some centers will be located in places where there is more sunshine.
“As our fulfillment network continues to expand, we want to help generate more renewable energy at both existing and new facilities around the world in partnership with community and business leaders,” said Dave Clark, senior vice president of worldwide operations, in a press release. “We are putting our scale and inventive culture to work on sustainability — this is good for the environment, our business and our customers. By diversifying our energy portfolio, we can keep business costs low and pass along further savings to customers. It’s a win-win.”
Amazon isn’t the only company committing to renewable energy. Back in November, Microsoft revealed its biggest wind energy purchase to date — 237 megawatts to power its Wyoming data center. And a month later Google claimed that it will be operating entirely on renewable energy — including its data centers and offices — by sometime this year.