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AWS to hit halfway point on 100% green datacentre pledge by end of 2017

Amazon Web Services opens up about the progress it is making with ramping up the amount of renewable energy its datacentres consume

Amazon Web Services (AWS) will hit the halfway mark on its commitment to having all of its datacentres powered by renewable energy sources by the end of 2017, the cloud giant claims.

Speaking at the AWS Re:Invent customer conference in Las Vegas, James Hamilton, vice-president and distinguished engineer at AWS, said the company’s work in this area has seen its use of renewable energy rise from 25% to 40% as of November 2016.

This has been achieved through a mix of solar and wind power deals the company has struck, including one announced earlier this month. This will see the firm bring an additional 180MW of renewable power onto the grid before the end of 2017 through the creation of five new solar farms in the US state of Virginia.

The deal will mark the sixth solar farm the company has built in the state, and is the 10th renewable energy project the company has committed to globally.

“We are going to hit 45% at the end of this year, and we’re feeling positive about it,” he said. “We believe we have good systems in place and are able to achieve this.” 

“We’re announcing today that we’re going to hit 50% next year. So if customers want to be 50% green, just move to the cloud. It’s as simple as that.”

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The company set out plans in November 2014 to ramp up its use of renewable energy in the coming years, in the aim of having all of its cloud datacentres powered by green power.

Hamilton said the company has faced challenges trying to balance its commitment to using renewable energy with its growing cloud capacity demands. 

“We hit 40% this year, which is an number when you consider the idea of doubling capacity in that period,” he said.

“The AWS power team has signed up to deliver 40%, and if they doubled the amount of renewable energy during that period – while we doubled our datacentre capacity – they would be at 25%.”

While some of its facilities are 100% renewably powered already, it is not possible to meet the latency needs of its global customer base by drawing on the capacity of these sites alone.

“If customers put their workloads in Oregon, our 100% renewable region, we are at 100%. We appreciate those who do that,” said Hamilton.

“However, many customers want to have their data close to their users, and some of the places where customers want to put data today aren’t the cleanest power locations in the world.

“We are therefore signing up to a challenge. We want to make it right everywhere, and we are not going to do that by removing choice for customers,” he said.

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