Amazon powers up Texas wind farm
Amazon on Thursday announced its largest wind farm yet in Snyder, TX, adding more than 1,000,000 MWh of clean energy to the grid each year. Amazon Wind Farm Texas has more than 100 turbines, each over 300 feet tall with a rotor diameter more than twice the wingspan of a Boeing 787, according to a company press release. The project was built, and is owned and operated by, wind and solar developer Lincoln Clean Energy (LCE).
The project is the latest of 18 wind and solar installations Amazon has launched across the U.S., and the e-commerce giant plans more than 35 more, according to the release. All told, Amazon's wind farms will generate enough clean energy to power more than 330,000 homes annually, along with supporting hundreds of jobs, the company said.
Amazon’s sustainability effort also includes innovations like Frustration-Free Packaging, which eliminated more than 55,000 tons of packaging last year and the District Energy system at its Seattle headquarters, which heats more than 3 million square feet of office space using recycled heat from a nearby non-Amazon data center, the company said.
Amazon noted the mutually beneficial nature of projects like these, which help the company save on energy costs while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions from more traditional modes of power generation.
"Investing in renewable energy is a win-win-win-win — it’s right for our customers, our communities, our business and our planet," Amazon’s Worldwide Director of Sustainability Kara Hurst said in a statement. "These are important steps toward reaching our long-term goal to power our global infrastructure using 100% renewable energy."
Texas is home to much of that legacy power, thanks to its massive oil industry. Though most petroleum is used for transportation and to heat homes, a small but significant percentage continues to fuel plants that generate electricity. But Amazon’s Snyder location is one of the state’s hotbeds of wind power generation, which is the fastest growing industry in Snyder and Scurry County, according to the municipality’s website.
"Scurry County has long been a hub for the energy industry and we’re excited to expand our commitment to wind power generation with Amazon and LCE," Scurry County Judge Ricky Fritz said in a statement. "The wind industry has boosted the Texas economy with jobs, revenue to area landowners and property taxes that support our schools."
The news comes on the heels of Target’s new climate policy and sustainability goals. The plan is to ramp up use of renewable solar and wind power to offset energy used at its facilities, increasing the energy-efficiency of heating and lighting sources in stores, actively managing its refrigerant inventory and exploring new programs, Target said.
These announcements represent something of a positive arms race, as Amazon, Walmart, Target and others signal ever-rising goals for water and energy efficiencies and lower emissions targets in their operations. Target last year topped the list of American businesses using solar energy, beating out Walmart for the first time.
Solar energy in particular has become an intriguing opportunity for U.S. corporations to further their sustainability goals and even save money. As costs have come down in recent years and consumers become more environmentally conscious, there has been growing demand from corporations for renewable energy.
Other retail and mall companies active in the space include real estate developer Prologis, with 107.8 megawatts (MW) of solar capacity, Apple (93.9 MW), Costco (50.7 MW), Kohl’s (50.2 MW), IKEA (44 MW), Macy’s (38.9 MW), shopping center developer General Growth Properties (30.2 MW) and real estate and shopping center developer Hartz Mountain Industries (22.7 MW), according to a report last year from the Solar Energy Industries Association.
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