Amazon Web Services, Inc. an Amazon.com company announced five new solar farms across the Commonwealth of Virginia that will bring a total of 180 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy capacity onto the grid before the end of 2017. Amazon Solar Farm US East 2, Amazon Solar Farm US East 3, Amazon Solar Farm US East 4, and Amazon Solar Farm US East 5 are four individual facilities, each with a capacity of 20MW, located in New Kent, Buckingham, Sussex, and Powhatan counties respectively. Amazon Solar Farm US East 6 is a 100MW facility in Southampton County, Virginia. These five new solar farms join the company’s existing project, Amazon Solar Farm US East, an 80MW facility in Accomack County, Virginia which is already in production. Amazon worked with developers Virginia Solar LLC and Community Energy Solar on the projects, and will further collaborate with an affiliate of Richmond, Va.-based Dominion Resources, Inc. (NYSE:D) to own and operate the solar farms long term. Combined, the six solar farms are expected to generate more than 580,000 megawatt hours (MWh) of energy annually, making Amazon in its support of the AWS Cloud the largest corporate backer of solar projects east of the Mississippi River.
To date, AWS has enabled 10 renewable energy projects in the United States that will deliver a grand total of 2.6 million MWh of energy annually onto the electric grid powering AWS data centers located in the AWS US East (Ohio) and AWS US East (N. Virginia) Regions – enough to power almost 240,000 homes. The projects that are currently producing energy include the 150MW Amazon Wind Farm Fowler Ridge in Indiana and the 80MW Amazon Solar Farm US East in Virginia. The 208MW Amazon Wind Farm US East in North Carolina is on track to begin generating electricity by the end of 2016. In addition to Amazon Solar Farms US East 2 – 6, other projects that will be in production prior to the end of 2017 include the 100MW Amazon Wind Farm US Central and the 189MW Amazon Wind Farm US Central 2 in Ohio.
AWS continues to make progress toward its long-term goal of powering the AWS Cloud with 100 percent renewable energy. Last month, AWS announced it expects to exceed its 2016 goal of 40 percent renewable energy by the end of this year and set a new, near-term goal to be powered by 50 percent renewable energy by the end of 2017. AWS is pursuing a number of initiatives to achieve these goals including enabling renewable energy projects, ongoing innovation in its facilities and equipment to increase energy efficiency, and advocating at the federal and state levels for policies aimed at creating a favorable renewable energy environment, such as the bipartisan HB 1305 in Virginia that incentivizes investment in utility-scale solar energy projects.
“We continue to ramp our sustainability efforts in areas where availability of renewable energy sources is low or proposed projects are stalled, and where the energy contribution goes onto the same electric grid that powers AWS data centers,” said Peter DeSantis, Vice President, Infrastructure, AWS. “By enabling 10 utility scale renewable projects in the US to date, we are well positioned to meet our latest goal of 50 percent renewable energy powering the AWS global infrastructure by the end of 2017. That said, we are nowhere near done. We will continue to make progress toward our 100 percent goal and have many exciting initiatives planned.”
“Solar energy is a central part of the comprehensive renewable energy approach Virginia needs to keep costs low for businesses, families, and taxpayers as we build a new Virginia economy,” said Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe. “I applaud Dominion and Amazon for collaborating in a way that will benefit our economy, our energy mix and our environment. We will continue to support collaborations and innovative approaches to bring low-cost, renewable energy to all corners of the Commonwealth.”
“The expansion of Dominion’s alliance with Amazon is great for Dominion, AWS, and the Commonwealth of Virginia,” said Thomas F. Farrell II, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Dominion. “It helps meet AWS’s renewable needs, it expands Virginia’s clean electric generation fleet, and it creates economic development opportunities in largely rural communities.”
Beyond the sustainability initiatives focused on powering the AWS global infrastructure, Amazon is pursuing several other clean energy and energy efficiency activities across the company. Examples of other projects include Amazon Wind Farm Texas – a 253MW wind farm in Scurry County, Texas – green rooftops, and the District Energy Project that uses recycled energy for heating Amazon offices in Seattle.