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Brookfield to pave net-zero path for Amazon Web Services

Toronto-based Brookfield Asset Management Inc. has selected Amazon Web Services, Inc. (AWS) as its preferred cloud provider, and in turn Brookfield will help provide Amazon (AMZN-Q) with a path to reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2040.

The agreement includes 601.6 MW in power purchase agreements (PPA) for operations in Europe, North America and India, which will be provided by subsidiary Brookfield Renewable Partners (BEP-UN-T).

Brookfield's holdings consist of hydroelectric, wind, solar and energy storage facilities in North and South America, Europe and Asia. The energy portfolio totals approximately 24,000 MW of installed capacity and approximately 100,000 MW in a development pipeline.

“AWS and Brookfield Asset Management are working together to enhance each other's commitment to digital transformation and renewable energy," said Abhishek Sharma, senior principal of Amazon Energy at AWS, in an interview with SustainableBiz. "Brookfield Asset Management has selected AWS as a preferred cloud provider, and by doing so they're accelerating their digital transformation and becoming a more data-driven company.”

“Brookfield Renewable is migrating legacy systems to AWS, along with using AWS' comprehensive portfolio of cloud capabilities to modernize their technology infrastructure, optimize operations and boost innovation.”

Brookfield Asset Management (BAM-N) has approximately $750 billion in assets under management.

The AWS-Brookfield partnership

Both companies had already been working together, according to Sharma, but the expanded partnership began to take shape in early 2021. Brookfield’s involvement in helping Amazon reach its goal of 100 per cent renewable energy operations by 2025 is one of the reasons for the partnership.

Brookfield is aiming for net-zero carbon emissions by 2040 and net-zero by 2050. It has an interim target to reduce Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 2030 across $147 billion of its assets under management by approximately two-thirds.

“Second, their global scale matches our global scale. This allows us to have access to renewable projects in places that we also have operations,” Sharma said. “Finally, Brookfield is a company that believes in innovating to accelerate the energy transition. We appreciate how collaborative Brookfield is, and their innovative approach to decarbonizing grids worldwide to help to fight climate change.”

The PPAs cover energy from wind and solar projects expected to generate 1,370 gigawatt-hours, enough to power more than 12,000 homes in the U.S. each year.

Eight projects are involved in the initial collaboration:

  • the 110 MW Amazon solar farm in Rajasthan Bikaner, India; 
  • the 39.6 MW Castelvetrano solar farm in Italy;
  • in Spain, the Antilia and Villaneuva solar farms, both 40 MW;
  • the 16 MW Balleykell wind farm in Northern Ireland; and
  • in the U.S., the 100 MW Arkansas solar farm Huttig; 160 MW Chariot solar farm in Illinois; and the 96 MW Covington solar farm in Mississippi.

The India solar farm marks the first of three large-scale solar projects for Amazon in Rajasthan Bikaner, totalling 420 MW. In the Asia-Pacific region, Amazon now has 57 renewable energy projects.

“Our partnership with Amazon is a tremendously exciting example of companies working together to reach net-zero,” said Ruth Kent, chief operating officer at Brookfield Renewable, in a statement.

“AWS is helping us modernize our operational systems, giving us the scalability, reliability and innovation we need to deliver clean energy around the world. In return, Brookfield Renewable will provide renewable power to Amazon on three continents, which will help Amazon stay on path to power its operations with 100 per cent renewable energy. We look forward to seeing what more this partnership can bring in the future.”

In 2021, AWS says it reached 85 per cent renewable energy capacity across its operations, translating to 118.5 GW of capacity sufficient to produce 50 gigawatt-hours annually and power the equivalent of 2.6 million U.S. homes.

How Brookfield will use AWS technology

The asset management company is now using AWS analytics, containers, Internet of Things (IoT), machine learning and storage capabilities.

“We're very excited (with) what Brookfield is doing with us already and how they can further access the breadth of AWS services, and also our partners in the AWS partner network,” Sharma said.

Applying AWS machine learning and analytics capabilities to this data helps the company automate key aspects of its operations. These capabilities enable Brookfield to manage complex commercial transactions, improve returns on assets and reduce operating costs across over 10 business operations.

Part of the collaboration extends to AWS’s partner, Calgary-based Blackline Safety Corp., via providing real-time employee safety monitoring at three hydroelectric dam sites in the U.S. with Blackline’s G7 wearable safety devices.

Those devices use Amazon Kinesis for high-speed ingestion of location and safety data into the cloud, and Amazon Redshift to detect if an employee is in danger or needs assistance, thereby triggering an alert for supervisors to send help.

“We continue to make more investments in the space,” Sharma said. “Brookfield, as the world's leading investor in renewable energy that's committed to help customers like ourselves to reach their decarbonization goals, I would expect us to have more partnership and collaboration in the space.

"So keep an eye on future announcements in this space.”

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