Amazon Web Services has announced it has committed to purchasing 60 megawatts of power from the Gunnedah Solar Farm in NSW, the first such investment for the company outside of the US and Europe.
That project, which is due to be operational next year will ultimately provide AWS with 142,000 megawatts of renewable energy annually.
That’s the equivalent energy generated by 23,000 households in Australia annually according to Adam Beavis, managing director, AWS ANZ.
Beavis, writing on a company blog says, “This announcement is the latest in many steps we have already taken to increase our sustainability. At the same time that we unveiled our Australian investment in Gunnedah, we announced another three wind and solar projects around the world, amounting to 88 renewable energy projects that combined have the capacity to generate over 2,300 MW and deliver more than 6.3 million MWh of electricity annually.”
Collectively, the investments AWS is making will help it meet its commitments to the Paris Agreement ten years ahead of schedule, said Beavis, who also noted that the investment will create hundreds of jobs locally.
Sustainable energy supply is a critical issue for businesses like AWS, and rivals Google and Microsoft. The world’s data centres generate two per cent of global data emissions and demand for their services is only growing.
Sustainability is also particularly important to Amazon at the moment. Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos announced this week that he will commit $10 billion of his personal fortune to fight climate change, a decision, in part driven by pressure from AWS staff, according to media reports.
Technology companies are increasingly recalibrating their efforts around sustainability, both because of the direct business opportunity from helping clients manage things energy costs or water usage. But it is also increasingly central to brand purpose for many global technology businesses who find themselves in a fierce war for talent.
Beavis in his blog described the importance of sustainable business practices for both AWS and its clients.
According to Beavis, “We are committed to running our business in the most environmentally friendly way possible, and our scale allows us to achieve higher resource utilisation and energy efficiency than the typical on-premises data centre.”
He argues that as customers move their compute workloads to the cloud, they benefit from AWS’s own sustainability efforts, in addition to its underlying services.
“Sustainability is hardwired into our cloud computing infrastructure – quite literally,” he said, quoting from a study by 451 Research which he said found that AWS’s infrastructure is 3.6 times more energy efficient than the median of surveyed enterprise data centres, with more than two thirds of this advantage due to our more energy-efficient server population and higher server utilisation.
“Once the carbon intensity of consumed electricity and renewable energy purchases is factored in, 451 Research found that AWS could perform the same tasks with an 88 per cent lower carbon footprint than traditional computing solutions.”