Amazon building massive Texas wind farm to help power AWS

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Amazon.com Inc. has announced that it will be building a massive wind farm in West Texas as part of its ongoing sustainability initiative.

The company, which has been criticized by environmentalists for its power usage, says that the new project will be capable of generating up to 1,000,000 megawatt hours of wind energy each year, or “enough energy to power almost 90,000 U.S. homes.”

The project, creatively named Amazon Wind Farm Texas, is set to be completed sometime in 2017 and will be located in Scurry County, a sizable yet sparsely populated county that is roughly 260 miles west of Dallas. Thanks to the region’s wide, flat terrain, it is already home to a number of wind farms, both large and small, and several major roads in the area are lined for miles with wind turbines.

“We’re excited to work with the community in Scurry County and Lincoln Clean Energy to generate 1,000,000 MWh of renewable energy each year from West Texas,” said Kara Hurst, director of sustainability at Amazon. “Amazon Wind Farm Texas is our largest renewable energy project to date and the newest milestone in our long-term sustainability efforts across the company.”

The new wind farm will be built, owned and operated by Lincoln Clean Energy, and Amazon stated that it will purchase about 90 percent of the power it generates.

Powering clouds with wind

While Amazon Wind Farm Texas is the company’s largest green energy project to date, it is not Amazon’s first foray into generating its own renewable energy. Amazon already uses other wind and solar farms to supplement its AWS data centers with renewable energy, and the company has also worked on making its packing more eco-friendly, reducing the amount of waste generated by the millions of packages it sends out each year.

On its website, Amazon says that AWS “has a long-term commitment to achieve 100 percent renewable energy usage for our global infrastructure footprint.”  Despite this promise, Amazon has been called out in the past for not being as green as it could be.

“Amazon Web Services (AWS), which provides the infrastructure for a significant part of the internet, remains among the dirtiest and least transparent companies in the sector, far behind its major competitors, with zero reporting of its energy or environmental footprint to any source or stakeholder,” a 2014 report by Greenpeace said.

Greenpeace added, “Unfortunately, despite its dominant position and well established business model, AWS has dropped further and further behind its competitors in building an internet that runs on renewable sources of energy, and is the least transparent of any company we evaluated.”

Amazon may be hoping that its new wind project will prove that it is serious about renewable energy.

Photo by rutlo