The sun is fueling Amazon.com Inc.’s latest sustainability push. The retail industry giant recently confirmed five upcoming solar projects in Australia, China and the United States totaling 615 megawatts. The projects represent the latest in the series of recent initiatives dedicated toward the goal of increased sustainability for one of the world’s largest and most important companies.
The U.S. will receive the bulk of the additions, with two new solar sites, one in Virginia and another in Ohio, yielding a combined 410 megawatts of power. Amazon’s existing and announced renewables portfolio now exceeds 2.9 gigawatts. To put that into perspective, just one megawatt of solar is enough to power approximately 190 homes in the U.S. according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).
Recently, Amazon announced to date the company has “31 utility-scale wind and solar renewable energy projects and 60 solar rooftops on fulfillment centers and sort centers around the globe.” Amazon also suggested that it could reach its goal of 100 percent renewable energy early. “These five new renewable energy projects are a critical part of our roadmap to reach this goal. In fact, we believe it is possible to reach 100 percent renewable energy by 2025, five years ahead of the goals we announced last fall,” said Amazon Sustainability Vice President Kara Hurst.
The announcement comes after Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos revealed in September the company’s Climate Pledge– a commitment to meeting the goals of the 2015 Paris climate agreement 10 years ahead of its 2050 goal, to reach 100 percent renewable energy by 2030, and a calling for other companies to sign to do the same. “We’re done being in the middle of the herd on this issue—we’ve decided to use our size and scale to make a difference,” Bezos said.
As part of its pledge, Amazon will purchase 100,000 electric delivery vans from Rivian, a sustainable vehicle manufacturer. Last year, Rivian received a $400 million investment from the tech company. The automaker says it is the largest order of electric vans ever and that they will begin delivering in 2021, followed by 10,000 vehicles on the road as early as 2022 and all 100,000 by 2030. Amazon says this initiative will save four million metric tons of carbon per year by 2030.
Amazon also revealed a $100 million reforestation endeavor and partnership with The Nature Conservancy in the launch of its Right Now Climate Fund. The company says the fund “takes immediate action to remove or avoid carbon emissions by supporting nature-based climate solutions.” Amazon developed a website providing reports and other sustainability metrics that share the steps the company is taking towards reaching its climate goals.