AWS shines light on Virginia solar scheme

Beltway cloud aims for renewable power milestone

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Amazon is planning to open five new solar power farms to help run its AWS cloud data centers.

The five latest facilities will be located in Virginia and will feed electricity to the US East regional cloud centers in Virginia and Ohio.

Amazon said the new panels will be set up in New Kent, Buckingham, Sussex, Powhatan, and Southampton counties. The Southampton facility will aim to produce 100MW of power, while the other four will have smaller 20MW capacities.

The new plants will join the 80MW farm in Accomack County to provide power to Amazon's Virginia AWS server farm. In total, Amazon says it now has 10 solar farms in the works to power the Virginia and Ohio facilities that host AWS US East regional instances.

"We continue to ramp our sustainability efforts in areas where availability of renewable energy sources is low or proposed projects are stalled, and where the energy contribution goes onto the same electric grid that powers AWS data centers," said AWS VP of infrastructure Peter DeSantis.

Amazon says that by the end of 2017 it hopes to have more than half of the total power for its cloud facilities provided by renewable energy sources.

AWS and other cloud providers have come under scrutiny for the power sources used by their cloud facilities. Due to the remote nature and huge energy requirements of most cloud-computing data centers, getting the facilities onto renewable energy sources and off of coal plants has arisen as an environmental issue, and many companies have made the installation of solar farms a major part of their cloud strategies.

The AWS announcement comes amid speculation that renewable energy projects could take a back seat to expanded fossil fuel production in the incoming Trump presidential administration.

While the facilities will be located just hours away from Washington DC, they will probably not be powering much government cloud work. The Amazon Government Cloud service is hosted on servers located at a facility in the Pacific Northwest. ®


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