Headshot of Kenneth Matthews, Head of Energy, EMEA, Amazon Web Services
Kenneth Matthews, Head of Energy, EMEA, Amazon Web Services

To support Amazon’s pledge to reach 80% renewable energy by 2024 and 100% renewable energy by 2030, we are delighted to announce the launch of three new renewable energy projects in the US and UK.

These will include Amazon’s newest renewable energy projects in Europe and the largest wind corporate power purchase agreement (PPA) in the UK – located in Kintyre Peninsula, Scotland. Once complete, the new Amazon Wind Farm will provide 50 megawatts (MW) of new renewable capacity with expected generation of 168,000 megawatt hours (MWh) of clean energy annually. That’s enough to power 46,000 UK homes every year.

Globally, Amazon has nearly 70 renewable energy projects including 18 utility-scale wind and solar renewable energy projects and more than 50 solar rooftops on fulfilment centres and sorting centres around the world.

These latest projects are expected to begin producing energy in 2021 and will supply energy to our Amazon Web Services (AWS) data centres, which power Amazon and millions of AWS customers globally.

To find out more about Amazon’s ambitions for renewable energy, we spoke to Kenneth Matthews, Head of Energy, EMEA, Amazon Web Services.

What makes this project different from other wind farms?

These are different from most other wind farms in operation, as they’ll be built and operated without any form of public subsidy. This means that there is no cost to energy consumers in developing or operating these projects. We believe this is a game changer for the renewable energy industry. It demonstrates how wind energy can and is standing on its own.

Public funding support has often been essential to develop the wind industry to ensure the technology can be cost-effective enough to challenge fossil fuels. However, this will be the fourth unsubsidised Corporate Power Purchase Agreement (CPPA) that we have announced in Europe in the past six months, adding to recently announced projects in Sweden and in Ireland in Donegal and Cork.

What is the immediate future for Amazon’s renewable energy projects in Europe?

We continue to invest in clean renewable energy projects across Europe, and globally to meet our 100% renewable energy goal. Amazon’s Cork wind farm will deliver power from September next year, supporting Ireland’s 2020 renewable energy targets. The wind farm in Donegal is expected to deliver clean energy to the grid in early 2021 and will contribute to meeting Ireland’s ambitious 2030 target. The new 91 MW wind farm in Bäckhammar, Sweden, will deliver clean energy no later than the end of 2020.

These wind farm projects are the latest in a long series of investments in Europe and the UK embedding our company’s focus on sustainability.

In particular these projects are well-positioned to serve the AWS data centres in Ireland, Sweden, and the UK. In addition to the environmental benefits inherently associated with running applications in the cloud, we expect more projects to be announced as we continue to minimize our carbon emissions.

What’s the long-term future for Amazon’s environmental and sustainability commitments?

In our Climate Pledge, we have committed to reaching 80% renewable energy by 2024, 100% renewable energy by 2030 and net zero carbon by 2040. This commitment will see us meet the Paris Agreement a decade ahead of the 2050 goal.

As part of The Climate Pledge, Amazon has launched a new sustainability website to report on its commitments, initiatives and performance. The site includes information on Amazon’s carbon footprint and other sustainability metrics that share our overall progress.

These commitments build on our existing innovative programmes, including Shipment Zero – Amazon’s vision to make all shipments net zero carbon, with 50% net zero carbon by 2030. We have also launched sustainable packaging initiatives like Frustration-Free Packaging and Ship in Own Container. We are also investing in the circular economy with the Closed Loop Fund – and there are many other initiatives happening every day across the business.

Why is renewable energy so important?

Tackling climate change will require action from everyone, but we believe there is a responsibility on organisations like Amazon to play our role. For our part, we are delighted with the latest investments in clean energy in the UK, and we are proud to be the first organisation in Ireland to deliver unsubsidised CPPAs.

Looking at Scotland specifically, according to the government the country was able to achieve a record level of renewable energy generation in 2018. Around 75% of its electricity demand was met from renewable sources and onshore wind energy alone was capable of meeting more than 50% of its gross electricity demand. Those figures are hugely exciting, and they illustrate the importance of onshore wind in the energy mix as a cost-effective and efficient source of energy generation.

This announcement is another important step that will increase the use and availability of renewable energy. It’s not just the right thing to do for the environment, it’s also good for the economy and good for business.

To find out more about Amazon’s sustainability commitments, please visit https://sustainability.aboutamazon.com/