Aerial view of two Amazon fulfilment facilities with solar systems on their rooftops. Photo credit: P2 Photography.
Amazon has announced a new initiative to generate clean energy by installing solar panels on its fulfilment facilities (DC) around the world. The company plans to deploy large-scale solar systems on rooftops of more than 15 fulfilment and sortation centres in the US this year and is planning to deploy solar systems on 50 fulfilment and sortation centres globally by 2020.
“As our fulfilment 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. “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.”
The initial solar projects planned for completion by the end of 2017 will generate up to 41 megawatts (MW) of power at Amazon facilities in California, New Jersey, Maryland, Nevada and Delaware. Depending on the specific project, time of year and other factors, a solar installation could generate as much as 80 per cent of a single fulfilment facility’s annual energy needs. For example, solar panels installed on the rooftop of the Patterson, California, fulfilment centre cover more than three-quarters of the 1.1 million square foot building’s rooftop and will capture California’s most generous resource to power the hundreds of Amazon Robotics utilised by workers at ground-level.
Amazon’s recent renewable energy projects include the company’s largest wind farm to date, located in Texas. In addition, a network of wind and solar farms in Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia are delivering energy onto the electric grid that powers AWS data centres. To date, Amazon has announced or commenced construction on projects that will generate a total of 3.6 million MW of renewable energy. Amazon was the leading corporate purchaser of renewable energy in the US in 2016, according to the 2017 State of Green Business report. Other examples of Amazon’s sustainability-focused projects include green corporate rooftops and the District Energy Project, which uses recycled energy for heating the company’s corporate headquarters in Seattle.
Additionally, Amazon has expanded its innovative Career Choice program to include funding for employees to earn North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) certification. According to the annual National Solar Jobs Census, one in 50 new jobs created in 2016 was in the solar industry across the country, which is a 25 per cent increase from the previous year. To qualify for the exam and become a certified photovoltaic (PV) installer for commercial and residential projects, employees in this program will participate in 40 to 80 hours of PV design principles and practices learning, OSHA training, and hands-on installations, all of which can be provided by local community colleges and other participating accredited educational organisations. Because the industry is growing so quickly, many PV installers may quickly find themselves in leadership roles as managers, designers, and developers of renewable energy projects across the globe.
“The NABCEP professional accreditation is a springboard for fulfilment centre employees to enter a rapidly growing and in-demand workforce outside of Amazon as PV installers,” said Kara Hurst, Director of Amazon’s Worldwide Sustainability. “It would be great one day soon to see former employees developing solar systems on the rooftops of our fulfilment centres.”