Amazon to build solar farm to power data centres

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Amazon to build solar farm to power data centres

Customers urge company to be transparent on renewable energy.

Cloud provider Amazon Web Services plans to build an 80 megawatt solar farm in the US as part of its effort to use renewable energy to power its global network of data centres.

The so-called Amazon Solar Farm US East will be located in Virginia and is expected to generate 170,000 megawatt hours of solar power annually - the equivalent to 15,000 US homes - by October 2016.

AWS has partnered with Community Energy to build the facility, which it claims will be the largest solar farm in Virginia. All the energy generated from the farm will be delivered into the electrical grids supplying existing and future data centres, it said.

AWS last November announced long-term plans to achieve 100 percent renewable energy usage for its global infrastructure, but was criticised for a lack of transparency over how it plans to reach that target.

Greenpeace has called out AWS on multiple occasions - most recently this week - for refusing to clarify whether it is running its facilities on renewable energy or buying carbon offsets to make its 'carbon neutral' claim.

This week the environmental activist group published a letter [pdf] from 19 AWS customers - including the likes of Thoughtworks and The Huffington Post - which called on the company to be more transparent about the types of energy sources powering its infrastructure.

In response, AWS said its customers use fewer servers, less energy and had reduced carbon emissions than businesses running their own data centres, but did not address the concerns around its lack of transparency on its use of renewable energy.

At the moment, around 25 percent of AWS' infrastructure is powered by renewable energy, the company said today. It is aiming to reach 40 percent by the end of next year.

Technology giants Apple, Google and Facebook are also pursuing renewable energy goals.

Apple claims 87 percent of its operations run on renewable energy.

Facebook last year opened a data centre entirely powered by wind energy and has said it will test solar-powered drones to provice internet access to remote areas, and Google recently announced its second Singapore data centre will use 100 perecent recycled water.

Amazon is also currently building a wind farm to power its data centres.

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