While the digital ecosystem is a very big source of carbon dioxide (the main gas responsible for global warming), Amazon wants to set a good example. Al Mastodon announces, on Wednesday, April 20, the launch of 37 new projects for the production of renewable energy in the world. In detail, the Seattle company will finance three wind farms, 26 new solar parks, and eight solar installations on the roofs of its own buildings.
In fact, Amazon does not build or operate wind farms and PV itself, but it does sign partnerships to purchase long-term PV or wind energy from developers at a guaranteed price. These long-term purchases make it possible to finance the construction of new clean power plants. In terminology, we are talking about “Corporate PPA, for Power Purchase Agreements or Direct Purchase Contract.
310 projects worldwide
A large portion of these projects will see the light of day in the United States, but some will be established in Europe. Three solar parks and two wind farms will be deployed in Spain. Amazon will also fund a second solar park in France in Saint-Frichoux, near Carcassonne (Aude). It should be commissioned in 2025 and has a capacity of 23.4 megawatts (MW). In France, Amazon already relies on the first 15 MW solar farm, which was installed in Brischac, near Agen (Lot-et-Garonne).
These 37 projects represent a total of 3.5 gigawatts of additional clean energy. Therefore, the web giant is pleased to increase its renewable energy capacity by about 30%, from 12.2 gigawatts to 15.7 gigawatts. In total, Amazon claims 310 renewable energy projects in 19 countries around the world. Once in service, these projects (included in this interactive map) will produce 42,000 GWh of energy annually, the e-commerce giant asserts. He explains that this volume will provide more than 11 million European families.
Amazon is also investing in storage capacity. These systems, which are often battery-based, make it possible to store the clean energy mass produced by solar projects in the middle of the day and redeploy it when solar energy is not available, such as in the evening or during periods. high demand.
The goal: to supply 100% of its activities with green energy
The goal of the Seattle company is to operate 100% of its activities (offices, distribution centers and data centers in the Amazon Web Services segment) using renewable energies by 2025, five years earlier than its original goal. Amazon has also committed to achieving carbon neutrality by 2040. It therefore intends to be ten years ahead of the goals of the Paris Agreement, which would make it possible to limit global warming to 1.5°C compared to the pre-industrial era.
The Amazon case is not isolated. All Gafam (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft) adhere to this trend. Apple, for example, aims to be carbon-neutral by 2030. Apple claims to be already carbon-neutral in its own activities. However, this is far from the case if the entire production chain is taken into account. In 2020, its carbon footprint was 22.6 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent.
Web giants are highly emissive and opaque
These commitments are not accidental. In fact, the global digital ecosystem emits much more than air transport (almost twice as much). According to studies, it is responsible for 2% to 4% of global greenhouse gas emissions. France-wide, a Senate report attributed 15 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per year to the sector, or 2% of total emissions in 2019.
In addition, studies indicate the weak climate policies of these web giants. In a recent report, Germany-based NewClimate Institute and Brussels-based Carbon Market Watch highlight the lack of transparency and integrity in commitments made by large companies, such as Amazon and Google.
About Amazon, the authors write in particular:
“The company’s commitment to achieve carbon neutrality by 2040 remains unsubstantiated, with no clear targets to reduce the company’s emissions, with an important role envisaged for offsets.”