Amazon plans three solar power projects in the US and Spain

Jon Fingas
Associate Editor
AP Photo/Juan Karita

Amazon continues to face criticism for its lack of environmental commitments, but it's making at least some strides toward reducing its impact on the planet. The internet giant has unveiled plans for three new solar power projects, two of them in the US and one in Spain. The American plants in Lee County, Illinois and Northern Virginia will offer a combined capacity of 180MW and produce about 400,000MWh of electricity per year. A solar farm southeast of Sevilla, meanwhile, will offer up to 149MW of capacity for Amazon's Spanish efforts.

The trio will help power Amazon Web Services data centers and, in Spain, Amazon's European fulfillment network (read: warehouses). Amazon didn't have a time frame for when the facilities would be ready.

These efforts nudge Amazon closer to its goal of running entirely on renewable energy by 2030. The company also sent a not-so-subtle reminder that it planned to beat the Paris Agreement through its Climate Pledge by going carbon-neutral by 2040, addressing criticisms that it didn't sign a pledge opposing Trump's plan to remove the US from the climate change pact. Amazon is clearly keen to show that it's making environmental progress.

Nonetheless, the expansion comes as Amazon is drawing fire for claimed deficiencies in its approach. On top of the lack of a signature backing the Paris Agreement, employees have blasted it for lacking a truly company-wide climate strategy. Critics inside and out have noted that Amazon regularly contradicts itself -- it's adopting renewable energy at the same time as it caters to the fossil fuel industry through AWS and spews emissions from delivery trucks. The three new projects should help reduce Amazon's footprint, but many don't believe the firm is going nearly far enough.