Amazon’s cloud will be half way to 100% renewable power by end of next year

Google, Microsoft have also made big green energy commitments for cloud facilities

Amazon Web Services is marching toward powering its global cloud footprint completely with renewable energy, with plans to be half way to the goal by the end of next year.

As of April 2015, the company was a quarter of the way to its goal of using 100% renewable energy. One of its 14 regions – in Oregon – already runs completely on green power. At the AWS re:Invent conference this week,  VP and Distinguished Engineer James Hamilton said the company is now 40% of the way to its goal and hopes to be 45% by the end of this year. By the end of next year it hopes to be half way there.

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“We’re signing up for a challenge,” Hamilton said during an opening night keynote on Tuesday. Amazon has plans to bring on a total of 907 MegaWatts (MW) of power, through mostly a combination of wind and solar projects:

* 150 MW Amazon Wind Farm Power Ridge in January 2015

* 80 MW Solar Farm East in June 2015

* 208 MW Amazon Wind Farm US East in July 2015

* 100 MW Amazon Wind Farm US Central in November 2015

* 189 MW Amazon Wind Farm US Central 2 in October 2016

* Planned 20 MW Amazon Solar Farm US East 2

* Planned 20 MW Amazon Solar Farm US East 3

* Planned 20 MW Amazon Solar Farm US East 4

* Planned 20 MW Amazon Solar Farm US East 5

* Planned 100 MW Amazon Solar Farm US 6

Using renewable energy has its challenges, Hamilton noted. “If you’re like me, the first question you ask is: ‘The wind’s not always blowing, the sun’s not always shining.’” So how will Amazon account for all those environmental factors? Basically, AWS will just generate enough power to cover for the contingencies. Eventually AWS hopes to spin up 2.6 million MW hours of renewable energy annually, Hamilton said.

AWS isn’t alone in committing to 100% green power for its cloud. Microsoft claims that it is already powered by 100% renewable energy, through power purchase agreements of renewable energy and by buying renewable energy certificates and offsets for its use of traditional power sources.

Google, like AWS, is committed to 100% renewable energy, with plans to purchase up to 2.5 GigaWatts of renewable energy and invest $2.5 billion in renewable energy projects.  

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