Amazon.com has added 14 renewable energy projects in the U.S., Canada, Finland and Spain, positioning it as the largest global corporate buyer of renewable energy.
said Wednesday the purchases speed up its goal to convert 100% of company activities to renewable energy. It claims it can hit that target by 2025, five years ahead of the original pledge for 2030.
The retail giant, whose fast delivery has historically drawn some criticism for the size of its carbon footprint, now has 232 energy projects around the world. That’s the equivalent of powering 2.5 million U.S. homes.
The 11 U.S. projects announced Wednesday include Amazon’s first solar from Arkansas, Mississippi and Pennsylvania, plus additional projects in Illinois, Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio. In total, Amazon has enabled more than 6 GW of renewable energy in the U.S. through 54 projects. The energy will run Amazon’s corporate offices, fulfillment centers and the Amazon Web Services (AWS) data center.
The online shopping giant said last summer that activities tied to its businesses emitted 51.17 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2019, the equivalent of 13 coal burning power plants running for a year. That’s up 15% from 2018, when it reported a carbon footprint of 44.4 million metric tons. The 2018 report was the first of its kind from Amazon, after pressure from employees to reveal its Earth impact.
Amazon has said its retail complexity means it is more than a straight tech company which may create confusing results. It has avoided voluntary but well-regarded emissions reporting trackers such as CDP and has launched its own initiatives and reporting. The SEC meanwhile is reviewing whether it will force companies to disclose climate impacts.
Amazon in 2019 pledged to hit 100% renewable-energy use by 2030 as part of a broader plan that included a big order for electric vans from Rivian, which the online retailer took a $440 million stake in at that time.
“We’re driving hard to fulfill The Climate Pledge—our commitment to reach net-zero carbon by 2040, 10 years ahead of the Paris Agreement,” said founder Jeff Bezos. That campaign includes 108 signatories, among them IBM, Unilever, PepsiCo, Visa, Verizon, Siemens, Microsoft and Best Buy.
The Biden administration has inserted a renewables pitch into infrastructure plans that have met with some congressional resistance on scope and price. But the White House has been clear that a private-sector push for renewables is necessary and Big Tech has been a leader.
“A new level of ambition across the private sector is necessary to accelerate decarbonization of the power system. Amazon’s leadership in investing and adopting renewable energy around the world paves the way for new innovation, and the ability to scale at the pace needed to address the real threats to the planet, people and businesses posed by climate change,” Miranda Ballentine, CEO of Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance, said.
Tech giants Amazon, Alphabet Inc.’s
Google, Facebook Inc.
and Microsoft Corp.
are four of the top six corporate buyers of renewable-energy purchase agreements, accounting for 30%, or 25.7 gigawatts, of the cumulative total from corporations globally, according to research from BloombergNEF.
Facebook has said it reached its goal of buying enough renewable energy to power all operations, including data centers, last year. But Facebook’s electricity use rose 39% in 2020, according to its annual sustainability report, which means the need to source more renewable energy is likely.
Google, which said it has been able to meet its energy consumption with renewables on an annual basis since 2017, is now aiming for an even more-efficient hour-by-hour demand match.
Analysts are looking closely at whether tech giants claiming to be greener and saving money over the long run are using more energy, period, due to growth and not lowering the nation’s fossil fuel-powered energy by substituting renewables, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Amazon shares are up 7% in the year to date and up 28% over the past year. The S&P 500
is up 13% in the year to date.