Amazon will produce electricity in South Africa

US tech giant Amazon says it will generate its own electricity in South Africa, through solar and wind projects, to supply its data centres.

It comes as state power producer, Eskom again warned of a high probability of load-shedding amid declining capacity.

The power producer urged the public to reduce electricity usage to help it to get through the evening peak as the power system is severely constrained.

Eskom said that the capacity shortage has been caused by the loss of multiple generation units and high load losses.

The losses are in addition to generation units that are already placed in planned maintenance, it said.

Amazon, on Thursday (10 December), announced 26 new utility-scale wind and solar energy projects totalling 3.4 gigawatts (GW) of electricity production capacity, bringing its total investment in renewable energy in 2020 to 35 projects and more than 4 GW of capacity.

These new projects, it said, will make Amazon the largest-ever corporate purchaser of renewable energy.

Amazon said it has invested in 6.5 GW of wind and solar projects that will enable the company to supply its operations with more than 18 million megawatt hours (MWh) of renewable energy annually.

These projects will supply renewable energy for Amazon’s corporate offices, fulfilment centres, and Amazon Web Services (AWS) data centres.

They will also help advance Amazon’s goal to reach net-zero carbon emissions across its business by 2040.

Part of that commitment is powering Amazon’s infrastructure with 100% renewable energy, and the company is now on a path to achieve this milestone by 2025, five years ahead of the initial 2030 target, it said.

“Amazon is helping fight climate change by moving quickly to power our businesses with renewable energy,” said Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and chief executive officer.

“With a total of 127 solar and wind projects, Amazon is now the biggest corporate buyer of renewable energy ever. We are on a path to running 100% of our business on renewable energy by 2025 — five years ahead of our original target of 2030.

“This is just one of the many steps we’re taking that will help us meet our Climate Pledge. I couldn’t be more proud of all the teams across Amazon that continue to work hard, smart, and fast to get these projects up and running.”

The 26 new wind and solar projects are located in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, South Africa, Sweden, the UK, and the US.

The new projects are Amazon’s first in France, Germany, Italy, and South Africa.

In late 2018, Amazon announced that it would open an infrastructure region in South Africa, consisting of three availability zones, headquartered in Cape Town.

Since then, the company started expanding its local presence rapidly, with the AWS South Africa division hiring over 100 new employees in July 2019.

The group’s first data centre, Amazon Web Services (AWS) went live in the Cape Town region in April.

“Private sector investment is essential to scaling renewable energy at the pace necessary to drive global climate action,” said Miranda Ballentine, CEO of Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance (REBA).

Amazon said it will continue to reduce emissions across its operations by establishing a path to power its operations with 100% renewable energy, five years ahead of the company’s initial target of 2030.

In October, Mineral Resources and Energy minister Gwede Mantashe gazetted amendments to Electricity Regulations on New Generation Capacity.

The amended regulations would enable some municipalities to develop their own power generation projects, while the energy department gazetted a new determination for the Energy Regulation Act, allowing Eskom to source over 11,800 megawatts of power from Independent Power Producers (IPPs).

 


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Amazon will produce electricity in South Africa