AWS to Build Solar Farm to Help Power Cloud Data Centers
The cloud provider will use the operation as part of a larger push to eventually have its infrastructure powered completely by renewable sources.Amazon Web Services officials are working with a company in Virginia to build and operate an 80-megawatt solar farm in the state, part of a larger effort by the cloud provider to grow its use of renewable energy. The solar farm—which will be built in Accomack County, Va., and will power up as early as October 2016—will generate about 170,000 megawatt hours (MWh) of solar power every year, which is about the amount of energy used to power 15,000 homes in the United States, according to Amazon Web Services (AWS) officials. The energy generated by Amazon Solar Farm US East will be sent into electrical grids that supply current and future AWS cloud data centers, they said. The announcement comes at the same time AWS is getting pressure from environmental groups—including Greenpace and Green America—that are concerned about the power being consumed by its data centers and are demanding greater transparency from the cloud provider over its clear-energy efforts. For example, Green America created an online petition targeting AWS and demanding that the company "build a cleaner cloud." The group claims that AWS cloud data centers use enough energy to power 600,000 homes, and that 77 percent of that is non-renewable.
AWS officials in November 2014 announced long-term plans to have renewable energy power 100 percent of its global infrastructure, and in April said that they had reached 25 percent of the goal. They hope to hit 40 percent by the end of 2016. The solar farm in Virginia follows on a wind farm in Indiana that Amazon announced in January that will generate about 500,000 MWh annually. Both will play key roles in helping AWS reach its goals, officials said.