Recent reports confirm that Amazon is ramping up its plans for moving toward the long-term goal of only using renewable energy for all of its global operations. The opening of a 1.1 megawatt solar rooftop installation in Las Vegas is the latest piece of the plan to fall into place.
It is clear that Amazon is now well on the way to moving its global operations footprint to a completely sustainable basis. If you haven’t yet heard about their plans then you might be surprised to see that the recent Las Vegas installation is just one part of a huge global effort.
What Have They Done So Far?
It is worth getting a feel for the scale of this mission by looking at the project that was recently completed for their North Las Vegas fulfillment center. This involved putting 3,145 solar modules on top of an 813,000 square foot roof, as Solar Novus reports. Amazon says that the potentially harmful emissions that are avoided thanks to this installation add up to 3.3 million miles of driving in the average gas-powered car. Even more impressively, this is their 17th rooftop solar installation in the US in a little over a year.
Indeed, if we cast our eyes across the country, we can see that there are now 28 Amazon wind and solar energy projects, creating jobs and lowering the impact of their activities. This is their second solar project on fulfillment center rooftops in Nevada, with others located in New Jersey, Maryland, and California.
They have also added wind farms in Texas, Indiana, Ohio, and North Carolina. The Amazon Wind Farm Texas is their biggest wind project yet. It is based in Scurry County and boasts more than 100 turbines, which are capable of adding a million megawatt hours of sustainable energy to the grid every year.
Interestingly, the 2018 Solar Means Business Report released by the Solar Energy Industry Association lists Amazon in tenth place for American solar installations in 2017. This puts them behind companies such as Macys, Apple, and Walmart. Target took top place in this list, with 435 new installations generating 203.5 megawatts in new energy.
Other smart ways of making the company greener include the way that they heat their corporate headquarters in Seattle. This is done by recycling waste heat from a neighboring building, owned by Westin Building Exchange. It is hoped that this innovative heating solution helps Seattle achieve its goal of being carbon neutral by 2050.
The Powerful Reasons for Going Green
All of this work is part of the Amazon Corporate Social Responsibility program. Yet, despite the size of this company, they aren’t in the habit of releasing an annual CSR report or sustainability report. Their first-ever sustainability executive, Kara Hurst, was appointed in 2014, leading to suggestions that Amazon may have neglected this area before then.
Since 2014, they have built up a strong sustainability team at Amazon, though. Their CEO, Jeff Bezos, has also been involved lately in other green projects such as a massive indoor farm and the opening of a $1 billion green energy venture fund with Bill Gates, Richard Branson, and other high profile investors. Going green is a sound business move that helps Amazon to remain one of the most profitable companies in the world. CNN reported that profits for the first quarter of 2018 doubled, to $1.6 billion. As pointed out in an infographic by Betway Casino, Bezos took just two years to move from being a millionaire to becoming a billionaire, which he was by the time he was 35. His net worth is estimated to be $90 billion at the moment, which is the same as that of Microsoft founder, Bill Gates.
Naturally, however, this move also has to be seen in context of what the planet’s other biggest corporations have been doing lately. For instance, Apple recently released their 2018 Environmental Responsibility Report with the news that they have achieved 100% renewable energy use across their operations. Numerous companies in many different countries now buy in renewable energy to meet their CSR targets. Amazon states that it is the biggest corporate purchases of sustainable energy in the US, although a report from Bloomberg suggests that Google may be slightly ahead of them in some metrics.
Yet, none of this takes away from the good work that Amazon has done to date in this area. The financial benefits, competitive advantage, and growing personal wealth of their CEO are all just part of the story. Amazon being sustainable is good news for all us, rather than just for the company.
What Comes Next?
It is clear that Amazon has plenty of ideas to carry on making their business even more sustainable energy in different ways. At the time of writing, they have plans underway to generate an extra 3.6 million megawatt hours on projects that have been announced or have already had work started on them.
One of their overall goals is to install a minimum of 50 rooftop solar systems around the planet by 2020. In this way, their move towards a fully sustainable basis will be a lot closer. In terms of overall targets, Amazon reports that at the close of 2016, over 40% of their global infrastructure was powered by renewable energy. Their target for the end of 2017 was then raised to 50%.
While their solar rooftops and wind farms are a US initiative, their move towards a greener future isn’t just limited to their US centers. Amazon also has plans for generating a more sustainable business model all across the world. The book Sustainable Energy – Without The Hot Air, on sale at eBay, is a good starting point for understanding what the future should be like.
A good example of what they have been doing so far comes with the Passo Corese center near Rome, in Italy. This is one of their most sustainable European projects to date and it has been certified as “Very Good” by BREEAM standards. The details here include highly energy-efficient lighting and electric vehicle charging stations.
They have already committed to using 100% renewable energy in all of the Amazon Web Services (AWS) data centers that are dotted around the globe. Customers looking to host their cloud computing on a carbon neutral basis can choose from the following regional options; Oregon, Frankfurt, Ireland, US, and Montreal.
The trend for Amazon to become more sustainable is definitely good news for the company’s reputation and profits. However, it is also something that everyone who wants to see a healthier planet should be happy to welcome as well.