Energy Procurement, Utilities, Finance, Industrial, Solar, Sourcing Renewables  -  November 18, 2016

Amazon announces 180 MW of new Virginia solar

Amazon Web Services Inc. has invested in five new solar farms in Virginia that will generate a total of 180 MW of renewable energy capacity for the grid. 

The new projects, from which Amazon Web Services will draw power through power purchase agreements, include Amazon Solar Farm US East 2, Amazon Solar Farm US East 3, Amazon Solar Farm US East 4 and Amazon Solar Farm US East 5, which are four individual facilities, each with a capacity of 20 MW, located in New Kent, Buckingham, Sussex and Powhatan counties, respectively, AWS, which is the cloud computing arm of Amazon.com Inc., said in a news release. The fifth project, Amazon Solar Farm US East 6, is a 100 MW facility in Southampton County.

AWS, which operates a number of data centers in the state, said it worked with developers Virginia Solar LLC and Community Energy Solar on the projects, and will further collaborate with an affiliate of Richmond, Va.-based utility holding company Dominion Resources Inc. to own and operate the solar farms long-term. Separetly, AWS in June announced it had reached a "special rate agreement" with Dominion subsidiary Dominion Virginia Power, which is the retail electric service provider for AWS's northern Virginia data centers; that agreement allows for greater flexibility for the wholesale market participation of AWS's investments in wind and solar projects.

The five new Virginia facilities join Amazon Solar Farm US East, an 80-MW facility in Accomack County, which is already in production. Combined, the six solar farms are expected to generate more than 580,000 MWh of energy annually, which the company said makes Amazon, in its support of the AWS Cloud, the largest corporate backer of solar projects east of the Mississippi River.

AWS continues to make progress toward its long-term goal of powering the AWS Cloud with 100% renewable energy. Last month, the company announced it expects to exceed its 2016 goal of 40% renewable energy by the end of this year and set a new, near-term goal to be powered by 50% renewable energy by the end of 2017.

"We continue to ramp our sustainability efforts in areas where availability of renewable energy sources is low or proposed projects are stalled, and where the energy contribution goes onto the same electric grid that powers AWS data centers," AWS Vice President of Infrastructure Peter DeSantis, said in a statement. "By enabling 10 utility-scale renewable projects in the U.S. to date, we are well positioned to meet our latest goal of 50% renewable energy powering the AWS global infrastructure by the end of 2017. That said, we are nowhere near done. We will continue to make progress toward our 100% goal and have many exciting initiatives planned."

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