How does Amazon buy “renewable” energy? And how it can claim to be powered by it? This is another good article. Amazon is building renewable energy for the tax credits- period. What continues to amaze us is that a radical environmental activist organization like Greenpeace could impact a business decision that has so much bearing on the company’s critical need for reliable and affordable power. It would certainly be refreshing if Amazon was a bit more candid about the kind of power it requires instead of paying to dump renewables, which it cannot use, onto the grid for some other chump. Their measley amount of BigWind energy will NOT be displacing much traditional energy at all! Particularly, when the big guys (coal,nuclear,gas) have to continue running in the background 24×7!!….
Powering a data center with wind is more complicated than it may seem. After the announcement by many tech giants of renewably-powered data centers — it’s important to understand what this really means.
The Nuclear Energy Institute looked at the new data centers moving East — particularly those by Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Apple — to an area with plenty of coal, natural gas, and nuclear generation facilities.
Amazon Web Services (AWS) is building a new data center in Virginia, and also a wind farm in North Carolina. And while the two things may be related, it doesn’t mean the wind farm will be powering the data center — at least not directly. The Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) said this means the center could be powered by any form of energy — including nuclear.
“The wind or solar farms usually don’t feed the data centers directly,” NEI explained. “Instead, the company continues to buy power for the data center from the grid, but sells the renewable energy on the wholesale market while keeping the renewable energy credits and applying them to the power consumed by the data center.”
Environmental organizations aren’t happy the Amazon data center may be powered by other forms of energy, especially when it’s called renewable.
Greenpeace spokesperson David Pomerantz asked, “Will the power from this North Carolina wind farm be delivered to the utilities that provide electricity to Amazon’s data centers in Virginia? Without an answer, AWS customers cannot be certain that the wind energy is displacing the gas, coal, and nuclear energy powering those data centers.”
But Amazon feels this is a non-issue, because the deals are “additive” — which means that the renewable energy added to the PJM grid would not otherwise be there. Even if their data centers are powered by other generation sources, the renewable energy they are adding to the grid would not have been created if they were not to build the plants. Their goal is to eventually feed more renewable energy into the grid than their facilities are using….