Amazon Web Services Commits to 100% Renewable Energy: Greenpeace Response

November 19, 2014

Amazon Web Services recently announced a “long-term commitment to achieve 100% renewable energy usage for our global infrastructure footprint.”

SAN FRANCICSO — In response to a recent update to an Amazon Web Services’ web page stating that the company “has a long-term commitment to achieve 100% renewable energy usage for our global infrastructure footprint,” Greenpeace issued the following statement from Senior IT Campaigner Gary Cook:

“Amazon Web Services’ new commitment to power its operations with 100% renewable energy represents a potential breakthrough toward building a green internet.

“With the world’s largest public cloud apparently joining Apple, Google, Facebook and others in committing to power with 100% renewable energy, the race to build a green internet may be gaining a crucial new competitor.

“However, Amazon’s customers will need more information to be sure that AWS means business about renewable energy. AWS should offer a plan for how it will implement its ambitious new commitment across its footprint. Apple, Facebook and Google [1], three of Amazon’s peers and rivals, all have laid out road maps that explain how they intend to achieve their goals of procuring 100% renewable energy.”

Having joined the race to achieve 100% renewable energy, Amazon has some work to do to catch up: Google announced yesterday [2] that it has inked another renewable energy deal, its eighth such purchase, to power its latest data center in Eemshaven, Netherlands, via electricity from a new wind farm just 20 KM away. The purchase ensures that the facility will be 100% renewably powered when it opens in 2016.

Amazon ranked as one of the poorest performing data center operators for its energy choices in Greenpeace’s April, 2014 report, Clicking Clean. [3]

How Amazon can show customers that its 100% renewable energy pledge is serious.

To show its customers that Amazon is ready to take the lead in the race to build the green internet, it should reveal information about its plans in three areas:

1. Transparency

Other internet companies have included ongoing transparency as a critical aspect of their commitment to renewable energy, but transparency has been one of Amazon’s weakest areas. Amazon should begin by providing a detailed snapshot of its energy and greenhouse gas footprint, and committing to providing regular updates as it changes.

2. Dirty US-East Region

Roughly half of AWS servers are based in its US-East region in Virginia, where the local utility (Dominion Power) provides only 2% of its electricity from renewable sources, 37% from coal, 41% from nuclear and 20% from gas. [4] But as Google, Facebook and Apple demonstrated in neighboring North Carolina, IT companies can demand that dirty utilities provide renewable energy options for their biggest and fastest growing customers. Amazon has the opportunity to lead that effort in Virginia.

3. Guiding Principles

As Amazon’s peers and competitors have adopted far-reaching energy goals for renewable energy, each has established principles to guide how they achieve these goals as they continue to grow. Amazon has recently begun to speak of being “100% Carbon Neutral” for three of its eleven regions, including its newest data center complex in Frankfurt, Germany. Is Amazon buying local renewable energy to power its Frankfurt facility, as Google just announced in the Netherlands, or is it buying renewable energy credits or carbon offsets that improve Amazon’s energy record only on paper, while leaving its actual electricity supply unchanged? The company should elaborate how it defines “renewable” for its customers.

Contact: David Pomerantz, Greenpeace Senior Climate and Energy Campaigner, 914.584.9054, [email protected]


[1] Facebook’s December, 2011 announcement of how it would meet its 100% renewable energy commitment: The company has released data annually since then describing its energy use and setting interim renewable energy objectives:

Apple lays out the principles it uses and its road map to achieve 100% renewable energy at its data centers in an annual report:

Google describes its principles for purchasing renewable energy and working with utilities to increase the share of renewable energy on the grid in multiple white papers here: Its wind energy purchase in the Netherlands on Tuesday was its 8th such purchase around the world.



[4] see p 79.

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