Boost for renewables

Amazon buys Kintyre energy in UK’s biggest company wind deal

An Amazon wind farm in Texas (pic: Amazon)

US retail giant Amazon will take power from a wind farm in Kintyre as part of its pledge to become one of the world’s biggest corporate users of renewable energy.

The company said the 50MW Amazon Wind Farm will be “the largest corporate wind power deal in the UK”, expected to generate more than 168,000 MWh of clean energy annually, sufficient to power around 46,000 UK homes.

Corporate deals are seen as lucrative business for the onshore wind sector, particularly after it was shut out of the UK government’s contract-for-difference renewables support mechanism.

Amazon is also investing in two renewable energy projects in the US, which includes solar power projects in North Carolina and Virginia that will have a total capacity of 215MW.

A senior Google executive told a recent conference on corporate renewable energy that large tech companies were now in a type of “arms race” to buy wind and solar power.

The online retailer signed up to a new Climate Pledge during the quarter and the wind and solar projects will support its goal of generating 80% of renewable energy by 2024 and 100% by 2030.

The three wind and solar projects are expected to start producing electricity in 2021 and supply power to data centres that support its retail platforms as well as the websites of AWS (Amazon Web Services) clients, alongside new devices and services around its Alexa voice commerce-enabling services, retail deliveries, the Internet of Things, and entertainment streaming..

We’ve announced eight projects this year and have more projects on the horizon

– Kate Hurst, Amazon

More than 85,000 smart home products can now be controlled with Alexa – which will soon feature its first celebrity voice – Hollywood star Samuel L Jackson – while General Motors is to embed the Alexa experience into new vehicles. 

Kara Hurst, director of sustainability at Amazon said: “We’ve announced eight projects this year and have more projects on the horizon – and we’re committed to investing in renewable energy as a critical step toward addressing our carbon footprint globally.

“With nearly 70 renewable energy projects around the globe – including 54 solar rooftops – we are making significant progress towards reaching Amazon’s company-wide commitment to reach 100% renewable energy by 2030.”

The announcement came as Amazon reported a 27.6% drop in third-quarter net income to £1.6bn (2018: £2.3bn), despite a 24% rise in net sales to £54.5bn (£44.1bn).

Scotland’s energy minister Paul Wheelhouse, said: “Agreements like this Power Purchase Agreement speak volumes about the levels of confidence from major employers and businesses across all sectors in Scotland’s renewable energy infrastructure.

“In 2018, Scotland was able to achieve a record level of renewable energy generation, with revised data showing that 76.3% of Scotland’s electricity demand was met from renewable sources, and onshore wind energy alone was capable of meeting more than 50% of Scotland’s gross electricity demand.

“These fantastic figures illustrate the importance of onshore wind in our current energy mix, as a highly cost effective source of generation, but also the leading role it will play in meeting our future energy needs, too.”

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