Amazon Web Services Indiana Wind Farm Goes Live

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Fowler Ridge adds to AWS’ 40 percent renewable energy goal by the end of 2016

Amazon Web Services (AWS), the cloud computing division of Amazon.com, has switched on its Fowler Ridge wind farm, and claims it has already generated enough electricity to power thousands of homes in the US.

The wind farm, located in Benton County, Indiana, was built last year in partnership with Pattern Energy Group. The 150 megawatt site consists of 65 utility-scale turbines, each with a rotor axis the size of a 26-storey building.

100 homes

January 1 was the site’s first official day of operation, according to AWS, and on that day the site generated 1.1 million kilowatt-hours of renewable electricity, enough to power more than 100 US homes for an entire year. Now up and running, the facility will generate enough clean energy to power 46,000 homes each year.

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A turbine at AWS’ Fowler Ridge wind farm

With this wind farm now operational, AWS claims it is able to increase the amount of renewable energy produced in the grid that powers AWS’s US East Region in Northern Virginia, and upcoming US Region in Ohio

“Over time we’ll continue to add more wind and solar power delivered into the grids, reducing the amount of coal and other fossil fuels needed to power those grids,” said AWS.

The move is part of AWS’ overall target of hitting 40 percent renewable energy goals for its global cloud infrastructure by the end of 2016, with an end-goal of hitting 100 percent renewable energy usage. It has to be noted at this point that hitting these doesn’t give AWS the ability to use renewable energy as its sole source of energy, but rather AWS will be putting out into the grid the amount of renewable energy that could theoretically power its cloud operations. Where the energy generated by renewable sources ends up on the grid is another matter.

But critics of Amazon’s green credentials say the firm is not doing enough to tackle climate change. Last summer, a campaign launched by environmental lobby group Green America called “Amazon: Build a Cleaner Cloud” argued that in its focus on climate change and low-carbon energy use, Amazon lags behind most companies – including Apple, Google, and Facebook – that operate large-scale data centres

TechWeekEurope quizzed AWS boss Andy Jassy about green targets during the firm’s annual Re:Invent conference in October. Jassy said that AWS is indeed on track to meet its 100 percent goals at some point in the future, but no date was given.

“We continue to pursue projects that help to develop more renewable energy sources to the grids that power AWS datacentres and bring us closer to achieving our long term goal of powering our global infrastructure with 100 percent renewable energy,” said Jerry Hunter, Vice President of Infrastructure at Amazon Web Services, last November.

It was then when Amazon Web Services unveiled plans to construct a further wind farm in Ohio that could produce up to 320,000 megawatt hours of wind energy a year by 2017.
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