Amazon becomes ‘world’s largest’ renewable energy backer with 26 new utility-scale solar and wind projects

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Jeff Bezos said the company could run on 100% renewable energy

E-commerce giant Amazon has invested in 26 new utility-scale wind and solar projects worldwide, bringing the company’s total renewable energy capacity to 6.5GW.

Amazon has invested in solar and wind projects in France, Germany, Italy and South Africa for the first time as part of a plan to run on 100% renewable energy by 2025.

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The company, which broke ground on its first solar farm in Virginia, US, four years ago, claims it is now the world’s largest corporate backer of renewable energy to-date.

Founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos said in June that Amazon would invest around US$2 billion in supporting low carbon technologies as part of its Climate Pledge, which was unveiled last year. The pledge sets out a series of targets for the company with the aim of reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2040.

While the company kept quiet about how exactly the funds would be spent, it has revealed today that it will invest in a further 3.4GW solar and wind capacity, bringing its overall capacity to 6.5GW.

As well as breaking ground in four new markets, Amazon will work on more energy farms in Australia, Sweden, the UK and the US.

Bezos said today (10 December) that Amazon is now on target to run on 100% renewable energy by 2025, “five years ahead of our original target”.

Amazon now owns and operates 127 renewable energy projects worldwide, including 59 utility-scale wind and solar projects, as well as 68 solar rooftops on its warehouse facilities.

It committed to its first large-scale solar projects in Spain in December 2019. The company announced a string of new projects, including its first in Australia, three months later, and then expanded into China’s well-established solar market with a further five utility-scale solar plants in May. This means that Amazon has funded 4GW of renewable energy through 35 projects over the course of 2020, which was lauded by the CEO and president of the American Council of Renewable Energy (ACORE), Gregory Wetstone, as an “incredible achievement”.

“It marks big progress toward Amazon’s goal of being powered by 100% renewable power”, he added.

The group is one of many corporate giants that have invested in solar technology in the race to substantially lower their carbon emissions by the mid-century. Last year, the Solar Energy Industries Association reported that 7,000MW of solar capacity had been installed in the US by corporations across 35,000 projects, well over double the 2,500MW and 7,000 projects in the 2017 report.

A report from BloombergNEF at the start of 2020 ranked Amazon as the third largest corporate buyer of renewable energy in the US, just behind tech giants Google and Facebook.

Miranda Ballentine, the chief executive of the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance (REBA), said that private sector investment is “essential to scaling renewable energy at the pace necessary to drive global climate action”.

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