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Internet Giants Are Leading the Way on Renewables

February 10, 2015 By Josh Kessler

Technology leaders have also become renewable energy leaders over the past few years. Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon have all made long-term commitments to run their online operations entirely on renewables, according to Wired. In January, both Google and Amazon announced major new renewable energy deals.

Google

On January 7, Google announced that it had partnered with Prudential Capital Group and Scatec Solar to develop in the 104 MW Utah Red Hills Renewable Energy Park. The $188 million park will be the largest solar plant in Utah, producing 210,000 MWh annually – enough to power about 18,500 homes. Google is the tax equity investor, Prudential provided the debt equity, and Scatec arranged the financing and provided the sponsor equity. PacifiCorp’s Rocky Mountain Power signed a 20-year power purchase agreement to purchase the power the plant.

Many businesses have supported renewables by signing PPAs or building on-site generation. While Google has done so as well, it has also chosen to invest directly in a number of projects. To date, Google has invested over $1.5 billion in wind and solar projects, beginning in 2010. This amount totals 6 million MWh of annual generation, enough for about 500,000 homes (far more than Google’s own load). In 2013, the company met 35 percent of its energy needs through long-term PPA’s, on-site generation, and green power.

Energy Manager today reported on Google’s renewable procurement plan previously in April 2013.

Amazon

Amazon Web Services, the cloud computing division of Amazon.com, announced in January that it had signed a 13-year offtake agreement with Pattern Energy to purchase 500,000 MWh per year from a 150 MW wind farm in Benton, Indiana. The Amazon Web Services Wind Farm (also known as Fowler Ridge) will enter construction in April and is expected to come online in late this year or early next year.

Amazon is the largest cloud computing company in the world. It has been criticized for lagging behind Google, Apple, and Facebook in pledging to run its online operations entirely on renewables, but in November 2014 the company followed suit. This project represents Amazon’s first major purchase toward that target.

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