Guest essay by Eric Worrall
Two stories appearing in the last few days with contradictory claims about Amazon.
Amazon Is Aggressively Pursuing Big Oil As It Stalls Out On Clean Energy
Apr 9, 2019, 11:30pm
In 2014, Amazon announced that it would power its rapidly expanding fleet of data centres with 100 per cent renewable energy. Apple, Facebook, and Google made similar pledges two years before that, and pressure from consumers and environmental groups drove Amazon to follow suit. For the next two years, the tech giant made admirable strides toward achieving its goal, bankrolling large solar plants and wind farms. Then, it stopped.
Amazon hasn’t announced any new deals to supply clean energy to its data centres since 2016, and it quietly abandoned plans for one of its last scheduled wind farms last year. Meanwhile, in 2017, according to internal company documents viewed by Gizmodo, Amazon undertook a concerted push to win over a new industry, perhaps best summed up by the name of a presentation at Amazon Web Services’ annual company Sales Kick-Off event that February: “Positioning for Success in Oil & Gas.”
Over the last two years, as Amazon’s clean energy promises have stalled out, Earth’s most customer-centric company has aggressively courted the fossil fuels industry, landing deals and partnerships with companies like BP, Shell, and Halliburton, offering data-based services such as machine learning for enhanced exploration, internet of things-enabled oilfield automation, and remote site data transportation.
With the publication of its February 2019 report, Greenpeace pulled no punches: “Amazon Breaking Commitment to Power Cloud with 100% Renewable Energy,” its release announced. “Despite Amazon’s public commitment to renewable energy, the world’s largest cloud computing company is hoping no one will notice that it’s still powering its corner of the internet with dirty energy,” the activist group’s senior corporate campaigner, Elizabeth Jardim, wrote at the time.
…Read more: https://www.gizmodo.com.au/2019/04/amazon-is-aggressively-pursuing-big-oil-as-it-stalls-out-on-clean-energy/
But Amazon is a green leader according to another story;
Amazon Focuses on Clean Energy to Power AWS Infrastructure
April 09, 2019, 09:54:00 AM EDT By Zacks Equity Research, Zacks.com
Amazon.com Inc. AMZN is gearing up for its upcoming projects associated with renewable energy initiatives. Markedly, the world is fast shifting to alternative energy and AWS is one among the many IT companies endeavoring to save the environment by switching over to green energy.
This time around, the firm has announced three new renewable energy projects in Ireland, Sweden and the United States to power Amazon Web Services (AWS) global infrastructure across the world.
The announcement is inline with the company’s commitment to gradually switch to using 100% renewable energy for the entire Amazon Web Services (AWS) infrastructure that powers cloud computing services globally.
In total, these three projects will deliver more than 229 MW of power, which is expected to generate in excess of 670,000 megawatt hours (MWh) of renewable energy each year.
…Read more: https://www.nasdaq.com/article/amazon-focuses-on-clean-energy-to-power-aws-infrastructure-cm1126587
What is happening? Is a powerful tech company attempting to greenwash their image? Or is Greenpeace being unfair – perhaps Amazon is trying as hard as they can to roll out renewables, but the move to green is taking longer than they hoped?
While most people associate Amazon with books, streaming movies and online orders, Amazon also runs much of the world’s web server infrastructure.
All those vast web server data centres are total energy hogs – they need 24/7 air conditioning and electricity on a gigantic scale. Although all data centres as a matter of course have backup power, they usually can’t take more than a few hours electricity outage without having to start shutting down their systems.
The Greenpeace report claims Amazon’s Virginia Data Centre, one of many, draws around 1.7GW of power, or 1700MW. Sourcing 229MW from renewables does not seem a significant contribution to Amazon’s overall energy budget.
Amazon wins data centre market share by being cheap and reliable, so I can understand their difficulties achieving their 100% renewable energy goal.