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Amazon is helping build a solar farm so its data centers can go green

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Amazon is taking a hint from Apple by beginning to use solar energy to go green. Amazon announced this morning that it's supporting the construction and operation of an 80 megawatt solar farm in Virginia, said to generate enough annual power to support 15,000 US homes each year. While that power may end up in homes, that's not what Amazon is backing it for: Amazon plans to use the power to support its data centers, which it eventually wants to operate using entirely renewable energy. The goal was announced last year, and already Amazon says a quarter of its energy is renewable. The solar farm is expected to be up and running by October 2016.

It's not stated how much of the solar energy will be used by Amazon itself, nor how much Amazon is actually contributing to this farm, which is being built by Community Energy. Still, the implication is that increasingly more of this energy will be used by Amazon as it continues to build new nearby data centers. It's also a change of pace for Amazon, which has fallen behind its peers in switching over to renewable energy. Apple already says that all of its US data centers, stores, and offices run on renewable energy, and Facebook opened a data center last year that operated entirely on wind energy. Amazon is trying wind energy too, having announced plans in January to support the construction of a 150 megawatt farm in Indiana. That's supposed to begin working in January 2016.