AWS unveils a central US wind farm to meet 2016 cloud energy targets
Amazon Web Services has unveiled plans to construct a new wind farm in Ohio that could produce up to 320,000 megawatt hours of wind energy a year by 2017.
The wind farm, officially called the Amazon Wind Farm US Central, will be integral to the cloud giant’s ambition of meeting its renewable energy goals in the near-term future.
AWS has plans to meet or exceed a goal of using 40 percent renewable power in its global data centres by the end of 2016. Past that, the firm has a goal of using 100 percent renewable energy for its global infrastructure in the future, but a date on that goal is not yet set.
“We continue to pursue projects that help to develop more renewable energy sources to the grids that power AWS datacentres and bring us closer to achieving our long term goal of powering our global infrastructure with 100 percent renewable energy,” said Jerry Hunter, Vice President of Infrastructure at Amazon Web Services.
“Our previously announced renewable energy projects put AWS on track to surpass our goal of 40 percent renewable energy globally by the end of 2016. This latest project, Amazon Wind Farm US Central, pushes our renewable energy percentage ever higher.”
But alas, powering homes and powering data centres are two very different challenges.
In 2014, research house Anthesis said that data centre power consumption is projected to increase to roughly 140 billion kilowatt-hours annually by 2020, requiring the equivalent annual output of 17 new power plants and emitting nearly 150 million metric tons of carbon pollution annually.
And by 2017, many experts predict that the electricity consumption of our smartphones, tablets and laptops, along with the networks and data centres which power them, is set to account for 12 percent of global electricity consumption.
But in May, AWS was criticised by Greenpeace for not being transparent enough with its green credentials. Greenpeace said: “Amazon’s adoption of a 100 percent renewable energy goal, while potentially significant, lacks basic transparency and, unlike similar commitments from Apple, Facebook or Google, does not yet appear to be guiding Amazon’s investment decisions toward renewable energy and away from coal.”
TechWeekEurope quizzed AWS boss Andy Jassy about green targets during the firm’s annual Re:Invent conference in October. Jassy said that AWS is indeed on track to meet its 100 percent goals at some point in the future, but no date was given.
In April 2015, AWS said that around a quarter of the power consumed by its global infrastructure was from renewable energy sources. As part of its renewable energy push, AWS said it continue to work on ways to increase the energy efficiency of its facilities, and to launch projects aimed at increasing the availability of renewable energy resources on the electrical grid that supplies power to current and future AWS cloud data centres in Virginia and Ohio.
In January 2015, Amazon announced a renewable project with the Amazon Wind Farm in Benton County, Indiana, which is expected to generate 500,000 MWh of wind power annually.
“We are very excited to be working with AWS on this important project in Ohio,” said João Manso Neto, CEO of EDP Renewables. “The fact that businesses such as AWS are playing such an active part in renewable energy projects is a very clear indicator that the future lies in additional generation of this type of energy. The support for this project shows the industry’s confidence in our delivery capacity, experience, and know-how.”