Amazon Announces First Brownfield Solar Project, Renewable Development Portfolio Reaches 71,900 GWh Per Year

    The Brownfield Project Is Located At A 120-Year-Old Mining Site That Was Previously Contaminated With More Than 45 Acres Of Coal Refuse

    Amazon now has a total of 479 wind and solar projects globally. (Image Courtesy Of Amazon)

    Amazon has invested in 78 new solar and wind energy projects so far this year, including the company’s first brownfield project that will repurpose a previously polluted Maryland coal mine site into a solar farm. Amazon also announced its first renewable energy project in South Korea, and 10 new renewable energy projects across Texas. The company now has a total of 479 wind and solar projects globally, and once operational, they are expected to generate more than 71,900 GWh of clean energy each year, enough to power 6.7 million US homes.

    According to BloombergNE, Amazon has purchased more renewable energy than any other company since 2020. The clean energy generated by the projects is moving Amazon closer to powering its operations with 100% renewable energy by 2025, including Amazon Web Services (AWS) data centers, Amazon fulfillment centers, physical stores, and corporate offices, while also providing new sources of clean power to local communities where the projects are located. Amazon’s solar and wind farms have also helped generate more than US$12 billion in estimated economic investment globally from 2014 through 2022 and supported 39,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs in 2022 alone, according to a new economic model developed by Amazon.

    “Amazon’s investments in solar and wind projects are helping power our operations, while also providing new sources of clean energy to the grid, spurring economic growth, and supporting jobs in the communities where our customers live and work,” said Adam Selipsky, chief executive officer of AWS. “More than 90% of our operations were powered by renewables last year, but we’re not done. We’re focused on continuing to find innovative ways to bring new projects online, address grid constraints, and work with policymakers to mitigate the impacts of climate change, all of which is helping Amazon move closer to achieving 100% renewable energy by 2025.”

    To date, Amazon has expanded its renewables portfolio into 26 countries and 21 US states, with new projects in Arkansas, Georgia, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Virginia so far this year, as well as Canada, Greece, and South Korea.

    Converting A Coal Mine Site From Brownfield To Solar Farm

    Amazon is announcing its first renewable energy project built on a brownfield — land that has been abandoned due to industrial pollution. Amazon Solar Farm Maryland–CPV Backbone, a project between Amazon and the developer Competitive Power Ventures (CPV), is being built on the site of the recently closed Arch Coal Mine in Garrett County, Maryland. The 120-year-old mining site was previously contaminated with more than 45 acres (18 ha) of coal refuse, which has since been reclaimed.

    The Arch Coal Mine site before it was reclaimed by the state. (Image Courtesy Of The Maryland Department Of The Environment)

    The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that there are more than 450,000 brownfields in the United States, which is an emerging opportunity for solar energy projects. Brownfields — which can include abandoned factories, mines, or landfills — are often located near power lines and public roads, making it easier to connect a project to the grid and turn unused land into an economic opportunity for local communities.

    The CPV Backbone project is expected to be the largest solar farm in Maryland once completed, according to publicly available data from the Energy Information Administration and PJM, and it will feature more than 300,000 solar panels. It’s also expected to employ more than 200 skilled workers during peak construction activities, provide millions of dollars in local tax revenue, and help avoid more than 133,000 tons (120,656 tonnes) of carbon dioxide (CO2) each year — the equivalent of taking more than 26,000 cars off the road, according to CPV.

    The Amazon Solar Farm Maryland–CPV Backbone solar project will look like Maple Hill, a similar solar farm built over a coal mine in Pennsylvania. (Image Courtesy Of Amazon)

    Creating 1000 Jobs In Brazil With A New Wind Project

    Wind turbines generate clean energy in the Rio Grande de Norte region of Brazil.

    An estimated 1000 jobs have been created in Brazil during the construction of a new wind farm, located within the Seridó Wind Complex. According to the developer, nearly 50% of those jobs were filled by workers from local communities in the countryside of the Rio Grande do Norte region. Elera Renováveis, the developer, used a drone to install the overhead transmission line conductors for the wind farm, and the wind turbines are 492 ft. (150 m) in diameter — the length of nearly 1.5 football fields. This marks Amazon’s second renewable energy project in Brazil.

    Wind turbines generate clean energy in the Rio Grande de Norte region of Brazil. (Image Courtesy Of Amazon)

    Rapidly Scaling Clean Energy In The Asia-Pacific Region

    Amazon added 13 new clean energy projects across the Asia-Pacific region so far this year, including eight utility-scale wind and solar projects. In South Korea, Amazon is announcing its first renewable energy project in the country, which will create an estimated 2400 jobs during construction, according to the developer.

    In India, Amazon accelerated its clean energy investments over the past year and announced seven utility-scale renewable energy projects in the country since September 2022, including its newest project, a 198-MW wind farm in Osmanabad. The company also invested in dozens of solar projects on the rooftops of local Amazon facilities, making Amazon the largest corporate purchaser of renewables in India, according to BloombergNEF and publicly available data, with a total of 1.1 GW of clean energy capacity purchased to date across India.

    Cows graze under wind turbines at the Amazon Wind Farm China–Qian’an in China. (Image Courtesy Of Amazon)

    In China, Amazon is announcing two new wind farms, including Amazon Wind Farm China–Daqing, which began operating in March, and Amazon Wind Farm China–Bobai. Amazon also invested in new solar projects in Japan and New Zealand this year.

    Surpassing 4 GW Of Renewable Energy In Texas

    Amazon is announcing 10 new projects in Texas this year, including the company’s third-largest solar project worldwide — Amazon Solar Farm Texas–Outpost, a 500-MW capacity solar farm in Webb County, Texas. Amazon is also investing in a new wind farm and eight additional solar farms in Texas. The company now has a total of 23 renewable energy projects across the state, and once operational, they are expected to generate enough clean energy to power 820,000 Texan households — more than the number of households in the Texas cities of Fort Worth and Austin combined.

    In addition, the largest renewable energy project in Amazon’s global portfolio — Amazon Wind Farm Texas–Great Prairie — recently began operations in Hansford County, Texas. The project has more than 350 wind turbines and more than 1 GW of total capacity. It’s projected to provide an estimated US$70 million in additional tax revenue over the next 30 years, according to the developer NextEra Energy.

    Bringing Clean Energy Projects To Fossil Fuel–Powered Grids

    A growing number of Amazon’s solar and wind projects are being launched in regions where the electric grid is still heavily dependent on fossil fuels, which means the projects are making a bigger impact on lowering carbon emissions from the local power sector.

    For example, Amazon recently announced its first utility-scale renewable energy project in Greece, where the majority of the region’s power comes from carbon-intensive coal and oil. When located in Greece, Amazon’s solar project is expected to help the region avoid more than 16,000 tons (14,515 tonnes) of carbon each year. That’s nearly six times more carbon avoided than if the same project was located in a country like Sweden, where the grid is already powered with a higher concentration of clean energy sources.

    As part of the company’s broader effort to help rapidly decarbonize power grids, Amazon recently helped co-found the Emissions First Partnership, a coalition of companies committed to modernizing the greenhouse gas accounting standards for the power sector, which will encourage corporations to invest in renewable energy projects in markets where they can help decarbonize the power system faster — a crucial step in addressing climate change.