Amazon announced it is collaborating with power project developer Competitive Power Ventures (CPV) to build a 170 MW solar farm, the Amazon Solar Farm Maryland – CPV Backbone, at the recently closed Arch Coal Mine in Garrett County, Maryland.
This will be Amazon’s first contracted renewable energy project built on a brownfield – land left abandoned due to industrial pollution, including factories, mines, and landfills. The 120-year-old mining site was previously contaminated with over 45 acres of coal refuse, which has since been reclaimed. Amazon has also signed a power purchase agreement (PPA) for the output of the CPV Backbone project.
Under PPAs, the customer doesn't always receive renewable energy directly through the grid, but its investment helps finance installation and commissioning of utility-scale clean energy projects.
According to CPV, the solar project will be fully operational by the second quarter of 2025 and followed by the Backbone Solar Part 2, which will bring the installed capacity up to 208 MW.
CPV received approval from the Maryland Public Service Commission to construct the Backbone Solar project on the former mining site in January 2022.
Once completed, the CPV Backbone project will feature more than 300,000 solar panels across 1,000 acres and deliver up to 245,000 MWh annually of emission-free power. According to the Energy Information Administration, it will be the largest solar farm in Maryland.
Along with helping Maryland in its attempt to reach 50% renewable energy capacity in-state by 2030, the project is also expected to provide millions of dollars in local tax revenue and help avoid more than 133,000 tons of CO2 each year – the equivalent of removing over 26,000 gas-powered vehicles off the road.
With this brownfield project, Amazon brings its total number of solar and wind energy project investments to 78 in 2023.
Overall, the company has invested in 479 wind and solar projects across the globe, and once all are operational, they are expected to generate more than 71,900 GWh of clean energy every year – the equivalent of powering 6.7 million U.S. homes.
From 2014 to 2022, these solar and wind farms have helped generate more than $12 billion in estimated economic investment globally and supported 39,000 full-time equivalent jobs in 2022 alone, according to Amazon.
“Amazon’s renewable energy investments continue to bring new solar and wind projects to market at a rapid pace and cement the company as a global leader in this space,” said Kyle Harrison, Head of Sustainability Research at BloombergNEF, in a statement. “Despite supply chain challenges, infrastructure hurdles, and rising prices over the past year, Amazon’s continued renewable commitments demonstrate how a corporation can help accelerate society’s transition to a clean energy future.”
According to Bloomberg NEF, since 2020, Amazon has purchased more renewable energy than any other company. This strategy aligns with Amazon’s goal of powering its operations with 100% renewable energy by 2025, including load from Amazon Web Services (AWS) data centers, Amazon fulfillment centers, physical stores, and corporate offices, while providing new sources of clean power to local communities where projects are developed.
“Amazon’s investments in solar and wind projects are helping power our operations, while also providing new sources of clean energy to the grid, spurring economic growth, and supporting jobs in the communities where our customers live and work,” said Adam Selipsky, CEO of AWS. “More than 90% of our operations were powered by renewables last year, but we’re not done. We’re focused on continuing to find innovative ways to bring new projects online, address grid constraints, and work with policymakers to mitigate the impacts of climate change."
As part of the company’s broader goals to rapidly decarbonize power grids, Amazon recently co-founded the Emissions First Partnership, a coalition of companies committed to modernizing greenhouse gas accounting standards for the power sector by encouraging corporations to invest in renewable energy projects.
Amazon’s renewable energy investments are part of The Climate Pledge, Amazon’s commitment to reach net-zero carbon by 2040 – 10 years ahead of the Paris Agreement.