Amazon announces three new renewable energy projects, including its first in Scotland

Key Points
  • Amazon's Director of Sustainability says the tech giant is "committed to minimizing our carbon emissions." 
  • Amazon is one of many global firms looking to power operations using renewable sources of energy.
David Madison | DigitalVision | Getty Images

Amazon announced three renewable energy projects on Thursday, saying it was committed to minimizing carbon emissions following criticism earlier this year.

The tech giant said the facilities would provide energy to its Amazon Web Services data centers. 

A wind farm, with a max capacity of 50 megawatts (MW), will be situated on Scotland's Kintyre Peninsula and is expected to produce 168,000 megawatt hours (MWh) of energy each year. Amazon said the facility could power the equivalent of 46,000 U.K. homes and would be the U.K.'s "largest corporate wind power purchase agreement."

Additionally, two solar projects in North Carolina and Virginia will amount to 215 MW of total capacity, with Amazon expecting them to produce 500,997 MWh per year. The projects announced Thursday are expected to start generating energy in 2021. They are not owned by the company, but it says its commitment to purchase their output enables the projects to be built.

In a statement issued Thursday, Amazon's Director of Sustainability Kara Hurst said the firm was "committed to minimizing our carbon emissions and reaching 80% renewable energy use across the company by 2024."

In June, Amazon was one of more than 700 firms targeted by 88 investors "for not reporting environmental information." The aim of the investors was to push businesses such as Amazon to disclose information via the CDP, a not-for-profit platform which enables companies to divulge environmental performance data.

A few months earlier, in April, thousands of Amazon employees signed an open letter to CEO Jeff Bezos and the firm's board of directors, imploring them to take action on climate change.

In September, Amazon co-founded an initiative called The Climate Pledge, which asks signatories to become "net zero carbon across their businesses" by the year 2040.

It has also launched what it calls a "transparency website" which it uses to report on what it describes as its "sustainability commitments, initiatives, and performance." The site also has information on the firm's carbon footprint, which it reports as being 44.40 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent for the 2018 fiscal year.

Amazon is just one of many global technology firms looking to power operations using renewable sources of energy.

In March 2019, for example, Microsoft signed a 15-year power purchase agreement for the energy produced by a 74-megawatt solar power facility in North Carolina, while in April 2018 Apple announced its global facilities were powered using "100 percent clean energy."

Making sure that its facilities are powered by clean energy is a multi-faceted process for Apple.

In its Environmental Responsibility Report covering the 2018 fiscal year the California-headquartered firm said that, where feasible, it sourced renewable energy by building its own projects.

In addition, it invests capital to become a part owner in wind and solar projects and signs "long-term renewable energy contracts."