Amazon Buys Wind Power For Its Web Services Data Centers

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Amazon Web Services has signed a long-term power purchase agreement with developer of a wind farm in Benton County, Indiana, according to a press release on Jan 20.

“Amazon Web Services Wind Farm (Fowler Ridge) will bring a new source of clean energy to the electric grid where we currently operate a large number of data centers and have ongoing expansion plans to support our growing customer base,” Jerry Hunter, vice president of Infrastructure at Amazon Web Services, announced in the release.

The world’s largest provider of cloud infrastructure services had made a commitment last November to power its operations, including a fleet of massive data centers, entirely with renewable energy.

Greenpeace has been calling out on AWS’s reliance on dirty energy for a while. According to Greenpeace, AWS, along with industry behemoths like Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and Twitter, have bargaining power to pressure utilities to clean up their fuel mix.

How do these energy pacts work? Usually the data center operator (AWS in this case) agrees to a long-term high-capacity PPA (Power Purchase Agreement) with the developer (Pattern Energy Group). When the wind farm is up and running, it feeds power into the local grid that also feeds the data center. The data center operator can then apply Renewable Energy Credits to the energy their facility consumes.

The 150 megawatt wind farm in Indiana, which will be called the Amazon Web Services Wind Farm, is scheduled to come alive early next year. It will generate about 500,000 megawatt hours annually, according to AWS, which has signed a 13-year PPA with Pattern Energy Group.

Greenpeace responded positively to Amazon’s announcement.

“Amazon Web Services’ new commitment to power its operations with 100 percent renewable energy represents a potential breakthrough toward building a green internet,” Gary Cook, a senior IT campaigner with Greenpeace, said in a statement.

My note–Amazon has been late coming into the fray of PPAs when the giants like Microsoft, Apple and Facebook have already been earning accolades for their investments. But, while late, it is still a commendable step in the right direction.

My tongue-in-check note–Wonder what the Big 5 is doing to make our Earth breathe a little easier?

S.G. Basu is an aspiring potentate of a galaxy or two. She plots and plans with wondrous machines, cybernetic robots, time travelers and telekinetic adventurers, some of whom escape into the pages of her books. Once upon a previous life on planet Earth, S.G. Basu trained to be an engineer, and her interest in science and her love of engineering shows up time and again in her books.

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