Clean energy and water conservation projects in Ireland are helping Amazon operate environmentally friendly data centers
Human-induced climate change is a real and serious threat and action is needed. This is why we created The Climate Pledge, Amazon’s commitment to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2040, ten years ahead of the Paris Agreement. As part of this pledge, we have set aggressive goals, such as being 100% powered by renewable energy by 2025, including in Ireland. We are making investments and innovating to help us achieve these goals and, as part of our progress, today we are proud to announce a new 115-megawatt (MW) wind farm project in Ardderroo, Galway, which will begin operating in 2022, and will support our Amazon Web Services (AWS) data centers in the country.
The new project in Ardderroo adds to our existing projects in Esk, Co. Cork, which will come online in September 2020, and Meenbog, Co. Donegal, which will follow in early 2022. In total, these three projects are projected to add 229 MW of renewable energy to the Irish grid each year, reducing carbon emissions by 366,000 tonnes of CO2 each year, and producing enough renewable energy to power 185,000 Irish homes, per annum.
To be powered by renewable energy in Ireland, we have committed to offtake 100% of the power from these projects without relying on public funding. As a result, we were the first organization in Ireland to sign unsubsidised Corporate Power Purchase Agreements (CPPAs). We started this with our two existing wind projects, in Cork and Donegal, in 2019, and continue today with our third and largest CPPA to date with the new project in Galway. These three Amazon renewable projects help Irish energy consumers avoid an estimated €229M Public Service Obligation (PSO) subsidy cost on their energy bills.
Once all projects are operational, we will be the largest single corporate buyer of renewable energy in the country, and we won’t stop here. You can expect to see us announce more renewable projects as we head towards our 100% renewable energy goal. All of this is helping Ireland to get on track to meet its 2030 renewable targets, all without any subsidies.
We’re not only investing in renewable energy to build a sustainable business in Ireland – we’re also innovating to preserve water. Water is a precious resource, that we’re committed to conserving and reusing where possible. To reduce both the energy and water we use in our Irish data centers, we use direct evaporative cooling systems, which predominately utilizes outside air to cool our servers. This means that for more than 95% of the year we use no water to cool our data centers in Ireland. For the few hot days Ireland does see, we use a minimal amount of water to cool the air that removes heat from our servers. Utilizing this highly efficient cooling solution, our newest data center designs use as little as 1,000m3 of water for cooling annually, per data center – that is equivalent to the yearly water usage of just eight average Irish households.
For our new data center, we are redesigning the roofs of our buildings in order to enable rainwater harvesting, to offset the water used from the local supply. Our goal is to be able to cool our data centers without taking any water from the local supply.
As we continue to reduce the environmental impact of our operations in Ireland, we are also supporting others to do the same. One way we are doing this is by providing the local community excess heat from our data centers.
At our data center in Tallaght, South Dublin, we’re supporting the county council as they establish Ireland’s first, custom-built sustainable district heating solution. The ‘Tallaght District Heating Scheme (TDHS)’ will provide low-carbon heat to public sector, residential, and commercial customers from recycled heat, supplied from our local AWS data center. The scheme will initially heat 47,000 m2 of public sector buildings, 6000 m2 of commercial space, and affordable apartments. We are excited about this project and will look for opportunities to continue to support heat recycling and district heating schemes, where viable.
Customers in Ireland, and around the world, are also able to support their own goals to become sustainable by moving to the cloud. In fact, the results of a recent study of US enterprise data centers by 451 research found AWS data centers to be 3.6 times more energy efficient than the traditional alternative and achieved an 88% reduction in carbon footprint for workloads that moved from on-premises data centres to AWS, helping our customers to become greener in the cloud. In addition, AWS customers utilize our services to make progress on their broader sustainability goals, from smart agriculture to optimizing manufacturing processes.
Amazon has built a significant presence in Ireland and we are proud to contribute to Ireland’s strong international reputation as a global technology leader. We are even prouder to be contributing to help Ireland meet its renewable energy targets, while making our operations sustainable.
Source: Company Press Release