Amazon Delivers ‘Win-Win’ Solar Rooftop Drive

Amazon has opened up a new front in its renewable energy push, announcing plans to install rooftop solar arrays on 50 distribution and sorting centres worldwide by 2020.

The ecommerce giant confirmed yesterday it will kick off the new investment drive with the deployment of “large-scale” rooftop solar systems at 15 sites in the US this year, including facilities in California, New Jersey, Maryland, Nevada and Delaware.

Precise details on the scale of new investment were not disclosed, but Amazon said the first wave of installations would have a major impact on the company’s carbon footprint delivering up to 41MW of solar capacity.

The company confirmed that while power output from the new arrays would vary by location and season the projects could generate as much as 80 per cent of a single fulfillment facility’s annual energy needs.

For example, solar panels installed on the rooftop of the Patterson, California centre cover more than three-quarters of the 1.1 million square foot building’s rooftop and are expected to power hundreds of Amazon Robotics systems used at ground-level.

“As our fulfillment network continues to expand, we want to help generate more renewable energy at both existing and new facilities around the world in partnership with community and business leaders,” said Dave Clark, senior vice president of worldwide operations at the company. “We are putting our scale and inventive culture to work on sustainability – this is good for the environment, our business and our customers. By diversifying our energy portfolio, we can keep business costs low and pass along further savings to customers. It’s a win-win.”

Amazon has faced criticism from green groups in the past over its alleged failure to be transparent enough about its progress in sourcing clean power for its giant data centres and other operations. However, in recent years the company has stepped up its investment in renewable power backing a network of wind and solar projects across the US.

“To date, Amazon has announced or commenced construction on projects which will generate a total of 3.6 million MW of renewable energy,” the company said, adding that it was the leading corporate purchaser of renewable energy in the US in 2016, according to the 2017 State of Green Business report.