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Wednesday, 10 July 2024 18:45

Amazon claims it achieved 100% renewable energy target in 2023.

By Lehlohonolo Lehana.

Tech giant Amazon claims that it "matched" its operations' entire electricity consumption with renewable energy last year, ahead of its 2030 target

Amazon which runs energy-hungry data centres around the world, says that it has reached this target seven years ahead of schedule.

The claim comes as debate continues to swirl in European countries about the role that data centres have in consuming large chunks of states' energy grids. 

In 2019, we set a goal to match all of the electricity used across our global operations – including our data centres, corporate buildings, grocery stores and fulfilment centres – with 100% renewable energy by 2030, the company said in a statement on Wednesday.

"Today, we're proud to share that we've met that goal seven years ahead of schedule. To get there, we've become the largest corporate purchaser of renewable energy in the world for four years running, according to Bloomberg NEF, and have invested billions of dollars in more than 500 solar and wind projects globally, which together are capable of generating enough energy to power the equivalent of 21.9 million EU homes."

Achieving this goal is an important milestone in our efforts to meet our Climate Pledge commitment of net-zero carbon by 2040. Looking ahead, we remain as committed as ever to getting there, but the path is changing in ways that no one quite anticipated even just a few years ago – driven largely by the increasing demand for generative AI. This will require different sources of energy than we originally projected, so we'll need to be nimble and continue evolving our approach as we work toward net-zero carbon. While we'll continue investing heavily to add substantial amounts of renewable energy to our portfolio, we’re also exploring new carbon-free energy sources that can complement renewables and balance our needs. We've known from the start that our path to net-zero would have many obstacles and need to be adjusted for changes to both our business and the world. Nevertheless, as with all of our long-term goals, we remain optimistic and focused on achieving them.

Amazon responded to the scepticism by saying that data was hard to collect for a company of its "size and scale".

"Reaching our renewable energy goal is an incredible achievement, and we're proud of the work weve done to get here, seven years early. We also know that this is just a moment in time, and our work to decarbonise our operations will not always be the same each year—we'll continue to make progress, while also constantly evolving on our path to 2040," said our Vice President of Worldwide Sustainability, Kara Hurst.

"Our teams will remain ambitious, and continue to do what is right for our business, our customers and the planet. That's why we'll continue investing in solar and wind projects, while also supporting other forms of carbon-free energy, like nuclear, battery storage, and emerging technologies that can help power our operations for decades to come."

"By achieving its 100% renewable energy goal, Amazon has made it possible for hundreds of new solar and wind projects to be constructed, bringing new sources of clean energy to grids and communities around the world," said Kyle Harrison, Head of Sustainability research at BloombergNEF.

"Addressing climate change while balancing society's skyrocketing energy demands is a massive challenge, and Amazon's commitment to clean power demonstrates how a single company can help accelerate the transition to the low-carbon economy on a global scale."

Here's a look of just a few of our newest carbon-free energy projects around the world. 

Amazon's renewable energy highlights

Since 2019, we've enabled renewable energy projects in 27 countries. In fact, we were the first corporation to enable utility-scale renewable energy projects in India, Greece, South Africa, Japan, and Indonesia, among other countries. To accomplish this, we worked with policymakers to enable first-of-their-kind policies to help corporations support the construction of new solar and wind projects in these countries. The use of renewable energy has also been incorporated across our broader corporate footprint. Our HQ2 headquarters in Virginia was designed to run with zero operational carbon emissions, and its electricity consumption is matched by a local solar farm. In addition to utility-scale projects, we've also enabled almost 300 on-site solar projects on the rooftops and properties of our fulfilment centres, Whole Foods Market stores, and other corporate buildings around the world. In total, our renewable energy portfolio will help avoid an estimated 27.8 million tons of carbon per year once all projects are operational.

Enabling nearly 1.7 GW of offshore wind – more than any company in the world

We're supporting nearly 1.7 GW of capacity across six offshore wind farms in Europe that, once fully operational, are expected to produce enough energy to power 1.8 million average European homes. These projects make us the top corporate purchaser of offshore wind globally. Offshore wind is able to generate significant amounts of energy due to the consistent flow of ocean breezes, and has the potential to meet more than one-third of global power needs, according to the United Nations. We're also working with developers focused on optimising wind turbine technology, which helps maximise the amount of electricity produced. Last year, the Amazon-Shell HKN Offshore Wind Project, or HKN, became the first offshore wind farm enabled by Amazon to begin operations. The project spans two locations off the coast of the Netherlands, and boasts more than 750 MW of renewable energy capacity.

Growing renewable energy opportunities in the Asia Pacific region

We have enabled more than 80 renewable energy projects across the Asia Pacific region to date, including 50 projects across India, and projects in countries including Australia, China, Indonesia, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, and South Korea. In Japan specifically, we're announcing our first onshore wind farm and standalone utility-scale solar project – a 33 MW wind project located in Rokkasho, Aomori Prefecture, as well as a 9.5 MW solar farm located in Kudamatsu, Yamaguchi Prefecture. We're the largest corporate purchaser in Japan, with a total of 20 projects enabled to date. The projects include 14 onsite solar installations on rooftops of local Amazon buildings, and six offsite wind and solar projects. We've also been part of successful bids for Japan’s first offshore wind auctions. While there has been a surge in solar projects in Japan, with solar accounting for nearly 10% of Japan's energy mix in 2022, the mountainous terrain in the country covering over 70% of land has led to limited space to build large utility-scale energy projects. This is why aggregated solar projects – where many smaller, distributed projects are bundled into one larger power purchase agreement (PPA) – have worked well in Japan. In 2021, we enabled the country’s first utility-scale aggregated solar project to be backed by a corporate PPA. Since then, we’ve engaged with Japanese industry groups and policy stakeholders to help expand corporate renewable energy procurement options in the country.

Launching Mississippi's first wind farm, supporting local residents while helping power Amazon data centres

Operations recently began at Delta Wind, the first utility-scale wind farm in Mississippi, which is generating carbon-free energy to help power our nearby operations, including future data centres. The project includes some of the tallest land-based wind turbines in the U.S., allowing the project to optimise energy production. The project is hosted on 14,000 acres of farmland owned by Abbot Myers, a third generation farmer who receives revenue from the project’s developer, AES. This has helped Myers purchase new farm equipment and expand his rice and soybean crops. We also recently announced a first-of-its-kind deal with local Mississippi utility company Entergy to enable 650 megawatts (MW) of new renewable energy projects in the state over the next three years, and provide funding for future upgrades to local grid and energy infrastructure over the next two decades. We're now poised to enable a total of 1.3 gigawatts (GW) of new renewable energy projects through a combination of new solar and wind farms being built across the state.

Modernising the grid to deliver new carbon-free energy

An important part of our renewable energy investments includes work to improve the grid, which needs to be modernised in order to deliver energy from new solar, wind and other carbon-free energy projects to users. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), the world must add or replace 80 million kilometres of grids by 2040 to meet climate targets, and more than 1,500 GW of renewables projects are waiting in the queue globally. To help address this, our teams are engaging with energy regulators to find new ways to support grid modernisation, remove permitting obstacles, and deploy grid enhancing technologies. We also co-founded the Emissions First Partnership, a coalition of energy purchasers focused on encouraging renewable energy investments in regions with grids that are primarily fueled by fossil fuel energy sources.

There are teams of Amazonians around the world working on projects like these every day because, with operations as broad and complex as ours, there's no easy way or single path to get to net zero carbon. But we love taking on big challenges and we're proud of the progress we've made so far.

Learn more about our commitment to sustainability, and read our full 2023 Sustainability Report here.