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Amazon makes first Canadian wind farm investment in Alberta

Supports 495 MW renewable energy facility that will power operations

Amazon's first wind farm investment in Alberta under construction. (Courtesy Amazon Canada)

Amazon (AMZN-Q) has announced an investment into a 495-megawatt wind farm in Alberta – its first wind farm in Canada – to power its operations with renewable energy.

Located in Vulcan County, near the southern Alberta village of Lomond, the Amazon Wind Farm Canada - Buffalo Plains project is expected to require 900,000 person-hours to build and employ up to 300 workers during construction, according to developer Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners (CIP).

Amazon’s local operations including an Amazon Web Services data centre, fulfilment centres, sortation centres and delivery stations will be powered by the wind energy in conjunction with Amazon Solar Farm Canada – Travers.

Travers is an Alberta solar project comprising 1.3 million panels, which billed as the largest in Canada. It was developed by Greengate Renewables and CIP, and is owned by Axium.

That facility recently went into operation.

“As Amazon moves to powering our operations with 100 per cent renewable energy, we’re proud to support new solar and wind projects in Canada, which will help power our next data centre region in Calgary, Alta., and provide clean energy to local communities where our customers live and work,” Nat Sahlstrom, Amazon Web Services head of energy, water, and sustainability, said in this morning's announcement.

“These projects are also helping create jobs, support local businesses and boost the local tax base, which are all part of Amazon’s broader commitment to become a more sustainable company.”

Amazon’s renewables commitment

Amazon’s portfolio of Canadian renewable energy projects now totals four, with previous investments into a 60-megawatt solar farm in Newell County, Alta., and a rooftop solar energy project at an Amazon delivery station in Nisku, Alta.

The projects will generate over 2.3 million megawatt-hours of energy — enough to power 1.69 million Canadian homes, Amazon states in the announcement.

Buffalo Plains is a project that has been in the planning stages for about four years. It will sit on a 17,500-acre plot of privately owned land and include 83 turbines as well as a substation, collector system and other required support facilities.

The Alberta government's seven-month moratorium on renewable energy projects exceeding one-megawatt, which was announced in August, will not affect this investment, according to Kristin Gable, Amazon Canada’s senior manager of communications, in an email exchange with Sustainable Biz Canada.

Amazon’s goal is to run its operations with entirely renewable energy by 2025. It has 479 wind and solar farms around the world, which are expected to generate more than 71,000 gigawatt-hours of clean energy each year once operational. The company says it has powered 90 per cent of its operations with renewable energy since the end of 2022.

BloombergNEF has identified Amazon has the largest corporate purchaser of renewable energy in Canada.

Serving the local community

In addition to powering its own operations, Amazon will look to provide surrounding communities in Alberta with excess clean energy from the solar and wind projects.

Amazon will also sign power purchase agreement contracts to commit to purchasing electricity from future renewable energy projects. This allows developers to raise funds, purchase equipment, construct the projects without direct costs to local energy users, and boost local economic activity, Amazon said in the release.

The company said its investments into utility-scale renewable energy projects have stimulated an estimated $478 million in local economic investment. 

“Amazon demonstrates strong leadership in contracting the renewable energy they need to power their operations in Alberta,” Evan Wilson, vice-president of policy for Western and national affairs at the Canadian Renewable Energy Association, states in Amazon's announcement.

“There is a similar demand from corporate customers across Canada who want to power their operations with renewable energy. As the lowest-cost forms of electricity generation, wind and solar energy allow companies to meet their emissions-reductions goals in the most affordable manner possible,” Wilson added.

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