Amazon Web Services (AWS) has disclosed plans to build a new wind farm in the US to generate electricity for the power grid that supplies its data centres. The move is part of the firm's long-term goal to eventually power its entire global infrastructure using renewable energy.
AWS has signed a contract with energy firm Iberdrola Renewables to construct and operate a 208MW wind facility in North Carolina.
The Amazon Wind Farm US East will feed energy into the electrical grid that supplies current and future AWS Cloud data centres, and is expected to come online in December 2016.
The move follows Amazon's commitment last year to eventually achieve 100 percent renewable energy use for the entire AWS infrastructure that powers its cloud computing services worldwide.
AWS is by far the largest provider of cloud computing services globally, dwarfing its nearest rivals.
The renewable energy commitment followed criticism from Greenpeace and growing concerns from some in the industry over the proportion of total energy consumption in many countries that is already accounted for by data centres.
This is projected to increase as cloud-hosted services expand, driven by trends in the corporate IT market and by back-end services driven by consumer smartphones.
David Pomerantz, senior climate and energy campaigner at Greenpeace, praised AWS' latest commitment.
"Amazon deserves praise for helping to catalyse the first wind farm in the south east [US], and AWS customers should feel good knowing that AWS is listening to their requests for more renewable energy," he said.
However, Pomerantz added the caveat that AWS is still lagging behind others in its lack of transparency about energy use.
Amazon Wind Farm US East is expected to start generating approximately 670,000MWh of wind energy annually when it comes online, enough to power more than 61,000 US homes, Amazon claimed.
Jerry Hunter, vice president of infrastructure at AWS, said that the firm will continue to pursue projects that deliver clean energy to the grids that serve its network of data centres, and encourage those in government to extend the tax incentives that make it more viable for renewable projects to get off the ground.
"This agreement, and those previously in place, puts AWS on track to surpass our goal of 40 percent renewable energy globally by the end of 2016," he said.
AWS announced plans in January for a wind farm in Indiana which is expected to generate 500,000MWh of wind power annually, and said in June that a further facility, Amazon Solar Farm US East in Virginia, is expected to generate 170,000MWh annually.
AWS is just one of many IT companies addressing concerns over green energy. Microsoft announced a deal with EDF Renewable Energy last year to build the Pilot Hill Wind Project which will provide an estimated 675,000MWh of renewable energy a year.
Apple, meanwhile, claims that it already powers its iCloud online service using 100 percent renewable energy.
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