IT companies are getting creative with the way they position, build and power their data centers. Facebook, for example, built two data centers in Oregon that are positioned to use prevailing winds so that the air moves naturally through the large structures, helping greatly to lower the power and cooling costs of the 15,000 servers humming away inside. Other companies build data centers near or on the banks of rivers to take advantage of cheaper hydroelectric power.
Amazon Web Services (AWS) has yet another idea. The company announced July 13 that it will build its own wind-power farm in North Carolina to help power its data centers— and local neighborhoods.
The Seattle-based cloud service giant has contracted with Iberdrola Renewables of Portland, Ore., to construct and operate a 208-megawatt wind farm in Perquimans and Pasquotank counties, North Carolina. It will be called Amazon Wind Farm US East.
This new wind farm is expected to start generating approximately 670,000 megawatt-hours (MWh) of wind energy annually starting in December 2016, or enough to power more than 61,000 U.S. homes in a year. When completed, it will be the first utility-scale wind farm in North Carolina, with the energy generated delivered into the electrical grid that supplies current and future AWS Cloud data centers.
Thus, other businesses and residences will be able to share in the power generated by the wind farm.
Amazon, a company that out of necessity sucks up incredible amounts of electricity, has been ahead of the curve with progressive thinking and actions on renewable power sources.
In November 2014, AWS declared its long-term goal is to achieve 100 percent renewable energy usage for the global AWS infrastructure footprint—a lofty goal, to be sure. In April 2015, AWS announced that approximately 25 percent of the power consumed by its global infrastructure was from renewable energy sources, with a goal of increasing that percentage to at least 40 percent by the end of 2016.
As part of its renewable energy initiative, the company plans to launch projects that increase the availability of renewable energy resources on the electrical grids that supply power to current and future AWS Cloud data centers in Virginia and Ohio.
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