On the morning of October 19th Jeff Bezos started his day standing on top of a 300-foot tall windmill, and breaking a bottle of champagne against one of the mills’ arm to celebrate the christening of Amazon’s latest and largest wind farm, located in Texas. The astonishing facility has an annual capacity of 1 million megawatt hours, and is one of the many projects that the company is developing to achieve the goal of using 100% renewable energy in its Amazon Web Services (AWS) business, which provides virtual storage in a cloud system.
The strategy behind Amazon’s sustainability efforts is fairly clear: the use of renewable energy generates a win-win-win situation. First, Amazon has the opportunity to diversify its energy consumption and to attain lower energy costs. Second, the customers benefit from the savings that will be passed along as a consequence of the energy cost reduction. Third, the communities can enjoy a healthier environment as a consequence of the usage of alternative energy as opposed to fossil based energy. But most importantly, the company is convinced that Climate Change can be slowed down, and is fully committed to play an important role addressing this issue.
The Tech Industry’s fight against Climate Change
Even when the current Administration decided early this year to reverse the Clean Power Plan and promote the fossil-fuel resources industry, the technology industry, led by Amazon, Apple, Google and Microsoft, joined efforts to stimulate the use of renewable energy, and advocated for the straightforward process of changing energy sources. The government’s decision of providing support to the coal mining and energy industries is a setback; however, Amazon and its buddies won’t admit defeat and will continue on this battle.
AWS is tackling the issue from two angles. First, by providing cloud storage, it allows companies to use 84% less power compared to what they would consume if they would use on-premises facilities. This happens because a regular on-premises data center is less efficient in the use of power compared to a cloud provider such as AWS. Additionally, the number of servers required by a cloud provider is inferior than the one required by a regular data center. The combination of above factors generates a reduction of approximately 88% of carbon emissions by the companies using cloud data centers.
Second, AWS has set the goal to use 50% of renewable energy by the end of 2017, and 100% on a long-term basis. In order to be able to comply with this goal, the company has built 18 wind and solar projects, and plans to include 35 more facilities to its portfolio. Amazon has also made changes to its buildings, for example the installation of LED lighting and high efficiency heating and cooling systems; and others much more ground-breaking transformations, like recycling energy in the form of heat, captured from data centers through underground water pipes, and using it to cool or heat the building.
Spreading the word
Besides the renewable energy initiatives, the company manages a comprehensive program that includes responsible sourcing, the reduction of the global footprint in operations, and the efficiency of packaging. On this last item, Amazon is partnering with GiveBackBox to promote the reuse of the Amazon boxes to donate goods to charitable organizations. The company is achieving great things on the sustainability field, but in my opinion, Amazon could go even further if the company did a bigger effort to share this information, which would serve to inspire and motivate people and organizations to follow their path.
Looking into the future
The fight for Renewable Energy has not yet been won, but Amazon has made some strong moves so far. Will the wind energy remain cost competitive and attractive if the current subsidies are removed? Will corporate America be able to overcome the challenges that the current Administration is posing, and thrive on using renewable energy as the main energy source?
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 “Amazon Launches Biggest Wind Farm Yet — Company’s Renewable Energy Projects Will Together Generate Enough Clean Energy to Power More Than 330,000 Homes,” press release, October 19, 2017, on Down Jones Institutional News, http://search.proquest.com.ezp-prod1.hul.harvard.edu/docview/1952993636?accountid=11311, accessed November 2017.
 Energy Monitor Worldwide, “Why Wind Energy Is Booming in the U.S,” ABI/INFORM via ProQuest, accessed November 2017.
 Jennifer A Dlouhy, “Trump Sweeps Away Climate Rules Vowing `New Energy Revolution’,” Bloomberg Politics, March 27, 2017, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-03-28/trump-to-cancel-obama-s-policies-aimed-at-paris-climate-pledge, accessed November 2017.
 Jacob Kastrenakes, “Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Amazon back EPA in challenge of clean energy rules,” The Verge, April 1, 2016, https://www.theverge.com/2016/4/1/11350482/epa-rules-backed-by-apple-google-microsoft-amazon-court-filing , accessed November 2017.
 Amazon, “AWS & Sustainability,” https://aws.amazon.com/es/about-aws/sustainability/, accessed November 2017.