In 2019, Amazon announced that Arlington, Virginia, would be home to their second headquarters, known as "HQ2." In planning for this growth, one crucial focus area has been figuring out the best way to power what will eventually be a four-million-square-foot campus. And the answer was clear: with 100% renewable energy.
This decision reflects Amazon's long-term commitment to sustainability. As part of our commitment to The Climate Pledge, announced last year, Amazon has already begun to take steps to become net zero carbon by 2040. Incorporating sustainability into their growth plan for HQ2 is a top priority. For further information see the IDTechEx report on Distributed Generation: Minigrid Microgrid Zero Emission 2018-2038.
Pittsylvania County in Virginia will be the home of a new solar farm, which will power Amazon's new headquarters along with other Amazon-owned operations across the Commonwealth, including Whole Foods Markets and fulfillment centers. The project is planned for completion by the summer of 2021. Amazon has contracted 82 megawatts (MW) of the new 120 MW solar farm, which is expected to generate 172,500 megawatt hours (MWh) of renewable energy annually. It will be Amazon's tenth renewable energy project in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Patrick Leonard, senior manager of Amazon's renewable energy procurement team, has led this important initiative, which has an added twist—Amazon is sharing the project with Arlington County. Amazon is taking about two-thirds of the renewable energy generated, and Arlington will take the remainder. As part of the Amazon energy team, Patrick also participates in learning sessions through the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance to collaborate and share with other companies the best ways to approach energy projects. His experience helped Amazon work with Arlington to advance shared renewable energy goals.
"To address the climate crisis and transition to a low-carbon economy, the majority of the world's energy must come from zero-carbon power sources, but renewable energy buyers face regulatory and market hurdles," said Leonard. "My role working with the team in Arlington County involved sharing perspectives on how to strategically assess a renewable energy project that is right for a business or a government and the environment. We are thrilled that we could share this project with Arlington County."
"Arlington is pleased that we will be sharing the output of the soon-to-be built Virginia solar farm with Amazon, and pleased that Amazon shares our commitment to renewable energy and to achieving net carbon zero in our operations," said Arlington County Board Chair, Libby Garvey. "Arlington's purchase of electricity from Dominion's solar farm will take us a long way toward our goal of 100 percent use of renewable sources for all electricity used in government operations by 2025."
"Our team is constantly thinking about how we can help create and build a sustainable future across our entire operations. We have contracted with several large solar farms and have rooftop solar installed at many of our fulfillment center sites across the globe," said Leonard. "Once this project is complete, we will continue to look for ways to advance our commitment to sustainability in Arlington."
Patrick is one of hundreds of Amazonians working on Amazon's Worldwide Sustainability team, a group dedicated to tackling some of the biggest challenges our business faces across areas including electronics, food, fashion, and packaging. This team focuses on identifying innovative ways to drive positive changes that will bring The Climate Pledge to life.
"Amazon is leveraging its scale to make a difference with goals, plans, and programs to address the urgency of climate change," said Kara Hurst, director of worldwide sustainability at Amazon. "When we announced The Climate Pledge, we committed to reach 80 percent renewable energy by 2024 and 100 percent renewable energy by 2030. Powering our new Arlington headquarters with 100 percent renewable energy is one of many steps we are taking across our business to support a low carbon economy."
Source and top image: Amazon