Amazon to build massive wind farm to power web services

Company aims for 100% renewable power for all it's global operations

Amazon Web Services (AWS) on Thursday announced it will build and operate a 100-megawatt (MW) wind farm in Ohio that will power its current and future cloud service data centers.

The project, called the Amazon Wind Farm US Central, is expected to generate about 320,000 megawatt hours (MWh) of wind power per year beginning in May 2017; that's enough electricity to power more than 29,000 U.S. homes a year.

While AWS's latest wind farm is dwarfed by previously announced projects, it is still large compared to those typically built by non-utility businesses.

For example, one of the largest wind farms to be completed this year was the 300MW Jumbo Road wind project located about 50 miles southwest of Amarillo, Texas. The project was commissioned by Berkshire Hathaway Energy subsidiary BHE Renewables, an electricity utility that sells power to Austin Energy. That wind farm cost more than $1 billion to build.

Wind-powered energy, the second-largest category of renewable electricity generation, is expected to grow on average by 2.4% every year to become the largest power contributor by 2038. Other than hydroelectric, all other renewable forms of energy are expected to grow faster -- but they are starting from a smaller base. For example, photovoltaics (solar) power generation is expected to grow by 6.8% per year, geothermal by 5.5%, and biomass by 3.1%, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

Renewable energy solar wind hydroelectric Energy Information Administration

Renewable energy source projected growth over the next 25 years.

Amazon has launched a handful of wind farm projects and other renewable energy initiatives over the past two years as it moves toward a goal of 100% renewable energy use.

In April 2015, AWS announced that it was getting about 25% of its power from renewable energy sources; it plans to increase that level to 40% by the end of 2016.

In January 2015, Amazon announced a renewable project with the Amazon Wind Farm (Fowler Ridge) in Benton County, Indiana, which is expected to generate 500,000MWh of wind power annually.

In June 2015, the company announced Amazon Solar Farm US East in Virginia, which is expected to generate 170,000 MWh of solar power annually. And in July 2015, AWS announced Amazon Wind Farm US East in North Carolina, which is expected to generate more than 670,000 MWh of energy annually.

Also this year, Amazon unveiled a pilot of Tesla's energy storage batteries that are designed to help bridge the gap between intermittent production, from sources like wind, and a data center's constant power demand.

Along with the new Amazon Wind Farm US Central, Amazon said its renewable projects will deliver more than 1.6 million MWh of renewable energy into electric grids across the central and eastern U.S., or roughly the equivalent amount of energy required to power 150,000 homes.

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