Amazon primed for Solar and Wind Energy expansion in southeast U.S.

July 10, 2023
The expansion will bring the retail giant's number of contracted solar and wind farms to approximately 30 in the region and will generate more than 7,500 GWh of carbon-free electricity as part of an effort to fully power operations with renewable energy by 2025.

If you feel a warm, southeasterly breeze rolling through the energy transition landscape lately, you can partly thank Amazon for that.

The online retail giant, already known as a preeminent global procurer of renewable electricity through a lengthy series of long-term power purchase agreements (PPAs), is lately supporting a number of wind and solar projects in Kentucky, Arkansas, Missouri and Mississippi, according to reports.

The company’s expansion in the southeastern U.S. includes five new solar and wind farms which bring the company’s contracted total to about 30 in the region. Once operational, those projects are expected to generate more than 7,500 GWh of carbon-free electricity.

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Overall, Amazon has procured power from more than 400 renewable energy projects worldwide, with BloombergNEF touting the company as the largest global clean energy purchaser, above even ESG-savvy firms such as Microsoft and Meta. Amazon does not own or build the projects themselves, and corporate PPAs don’t necessarily mean the renewable energy is routed directly to the purchaser, but the investment does support development, construction and connection of these systems into decarbonizing the overall grid generation mix.

Nonetheless, the firm is helping fund the energy transition changeover from fossil fuels to renewable projects.

“Amazon is on a path to power our operations with 100 percent renewable energy by 2025, and we want to ensure the local communities where our customers live and work are also benefiting from the solar and wind projects that we support,” Charley Daitch, director of Energy and Water Strategy at Amazon Web Services, said in a comment quoted on the retailer’s website.

“These energy projects are helping provide clean energy to local grids to create jobs, support local businesses and farmers, and boost the rural tax base in the southeast, which are all part of Amazon’s commitment to become a more sustainable company,” Daitch added.

Among the southeastern U.S. renewable projects buoyed by Amazon’s investments includes the first utility-scale wind farm in Mississippi, as well as major solar developments in Georgia, Arkansas and Kentucky. It’s enough Southeastern flavor to make SEC football fans feel like their region is challenging No. 1 in clean energy also.

The Turkey Creek Solar Ranch in Kentucky was developed by Silicon Ranch. It was the first utility -scale solar project to gain approval of the Kentucky Public Service Commission. The solar farm is designed to allow a local farmer's sheep to graze around the grounds. 

Other utility-scale solar projects supported with PPAs involving Amazon include Bulldog and Sonny solar farms in Georgia and the rooftop solar project at the Amazon Air Hub at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport.

Amazon touted 2022 as its biggest yet in procuring clean energy projects, procuring or building some 8.3 GW of wind, solar and other renewables via 133 new projects in 11 countries. Last year’s series of power purchases and renewable investments brings the company’s total to more than 20 GW –enough to power more than 5 million homes—across 22 nations worldwide.