Amazon to power cloud with big wind farm in North Carolina

Storm Eases Over Windfarms
PALM SPRINGS, CA - DECEMBER 17: A rainbow forms behind giant windmills near rain-soaked Interstate 10 as an El Nino-influenced storm passes over the state on December 17, 2002 near Palm Springs, California. Because of consistantly high winds, thousands of giant windmills have sprouted in the area to create wind-powered electricity. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
Photograph by David McNew—Getty Images

Amazon plans to buy energy from a big wind farm in North Carolina to power its current and future data centers that handle its cloud computing service. The news comes a little over a month after some of Amazon’s largest cloud customers publicly asked the company to make a bigger commitment to clean energy.

On Monday, Amazon said that it is working with clean power company Iberdrola Renewables to buy energy from a large 208 megawatt wind farm that will be built in two North Carolina counties. Solar and wind farms that are hundreds of megawatts in size are relatively big, and the so-called “Amazon Wind Farm US East” will be able to provide enough energy to power 61,000 average American homes in a year.

The wind farm is supposed to be operational starting in December 2016. Amazon says it will be the first large-scale wind farm in North Carolina.

Amazon’s new wind power plans follow its announcement last month that it will buy solar energy from a small solar farm in Virginia to power cloud data centers. In addition, Amazon plans to buy wind power from a wind farm in Indiana also to power its cloud infrastructure.

Amazon (AMZN) has received a lot of attention for failing to adopt clean power for its data centers more swiftly, or in a more transparent way. Google (GOOG), Apple (AAPL), and Facebook (FB) embraced clean energy years earlier and more aggressively. Instead, Amazon largely pointed to the energy efficiency of its cloud infrastructure.

Because Amazon Web Services is so large, its adoption of clean energy would have a much larger effect on all the Web companies that rely on it. Netflix (NFLX), Pinterest, Tumblr and Upworthy are among its large clients.

Amazon’s customers have recently started to become more vocal that some of them want clean energy to power their services. First Netflix wrote a blog post about it, and then 19 AWS customers wrote a letter to Amazon asking the company to be more transparent about its energy consumption.

Amazon first committed to delivering 100% of its cloud infrastructure energy needs with clean power in November 2014. Today Amazon says 25% of the power for its data center infrastructure comes from clean energy. That is supposed to rise to 40% by the end of 2016. Amazon Web Services’ Vice President of Infrastructure, Jerry Hunter, said in a release Monday that Amazon is “far from being done,” when it comes to its clean power commitments.

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