North Carolina Data Centers Get Boost From New Amazon Wind Farm

Amazon Web Services announced in mid-July that it is creating a new North Carolina wind farm in order to power the company's current and future data centers. Iberdrola Renewables, the U.S. division of Spanish electrical utility conglomerate Iberdrola, has been selected to build and manage the project.

The wind farm is a massive undertaking, spanning two counties in North Carolina and providing 670,000 MWh annually – enough energy to power more than 61,000 homes in the U.S. The project, known as Amazon Wind Farm US East, will be the first utility-scale wind farm in North Carolina and is expected to be operational in December 2016. The farm will not provide energy to Amazon's North Carolina data centers directly, but instead create power that will be sold on the wholesale market. The company will then keep the renewable energy credits received from the farm and apply them to the power consumed by the data center.

Wind Farm East joins a wind farm in Indiana that was previously announced by the company, as well as other renewable energy initiatives such as a Virginia solar farm and a test program using Tesla's energy storage batteries.

Data Center Sustainability Becoming A Priority
AWS officials said that the new wind farm will help the company to not only meet its goal of relying on 40 percent renewable energy globally by the end of 2016, but will actually put Amazon on track to surpass that goal. However, Jerry Hunter, vice president of infrastructure at AWS, believes there is still more work to be done when it comes to data center sustainability.

"We're far from being done," said Hunter. "We'll continue pursuing projects that deliver clean energy to the various energy grids that serve AWS data centers, we'll continue working with our power providers to increase their renewable energy quotient, and we'll continue to strongly encourage our partners in government to extend the tax incentives that make it more viable for renewable projects to get off the ground."

Amazon isn't the only data center operator getting into the sustainability game. Facebook announced plans for a Texas data center powered by wind energy in early July. The Facebook site will be created under a partnership with Citigroup Energy, Alterra Power Corporation and Starwood Energy Group, and will rely on free air cooling instead of air conditioning. 

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