AWS Increases Its Renewable Energy Efforts

Although Amazon Web Services (AWS), may be the undisputed leader of public cloud, it has been long considered a laggard within the green computing space. It trails tech giants Apple and Rackspace in areas such as transparency and energy efficiency.
This week, the company announced its plans to launch a 189-megawatt windfar in Ohio by December 2017. It will power its datacenters in the U.S East. This will be AWS’ second Ohio wind farm. It is located in Hardin County. The second facility, a 100-megawatt windfarm in Paulding County is scheduled to open in May 2017.
AWS announced that the Ohio wind farm will produce 530,000 megawatt hours per year.
AWS currently has three other renewable energy projects in the United States, in addition to the Ohio wind farms. These include a 50-megawatt windfar in Indiana, a North Carolina wind farm of 208 megawatts, and a Virginia solar farm of 80 megawatts. A massive 253 megawatt wind farm in Texas is further down the pipeline and is expected to open in late 2017.
AWS has seen a lot of activity in Ohio recently. The company announced last month that it had opened a new Columbus datacenter. AWS stated that it is pushing Ohio lawmakers to adopt policies that encourage investments in renewable energy projects.
AWS has been criticised in the past for its use of renewable energy practices. Greenpeace, an environmental watchdog, consistently gave AWS low marks during its annual “Click Green Report.” AWS responded to these criticisms in 2014 by announcing its goal to make its global infrastructure 100 percent renewable energy. According to AWS’ sustainability page, AWS has been working with a number of energy companies since early 2015.
Despite these efforts, Greenpeace awarded AWS Ds to the areas of “Energy Efficiency & Mitigation Strategy” & “Renewable Energy Use & Advocacy” for its 2015 report. It also gave an F in “Energy Transparency.”
“[T]he continuing lack of transparency about the energy performance of AWS cloud, coupled with significant expansions of its infrastructure within utility territories that have very little or no renewable energy capacity would seem to indicate that AWS is not yet able to determine how it will make its commitment to renewable energies a reality,” Greenpeace stated in its report.
AWS stated this week that more than 40% of its total energy consumption will be from renewable sources by 2016. It plans to increase that percentage to 50% by 2017.
Peter DeSantis (Vice President of Infrastructure at AWS), stated that “We remain committed towards achieving our long term goal of powering AWS Cloud with 100% renewable energy.” This is possible due to many factors, including the implementation of policies that encourage cost-effective renewable energy production, businesses buying that energy, and economical renewable projects from our development partners. We also need technological and operational innovation that improves our global infrastructure’s efficiency. To achieve our renewable energy goals, we will continue to push all of these areas.