Amazon is announcing its first two utility-scale renewable energy projects in Maryland, including the company’s first renewable energy project built on a brownfield.
The two projects are among 78 new solar and wind projects that Amazon is announcing it has invested in so far this year. The company now has 479 wind and solar projects globally, and once operational, will generate enough clean energy to power the equivalent of 6.7 million U.S. homes.
The projects are helping power Amazon’s operations, including Amazon Web Services (AWS) data centers, Amazon fulfillment centers and physical stores, while also providing new sources of clean power to local communities where the projects are located. Amazon is currently on a path to powering 100% of its operations with renewable energy by 2025, and the company achieved 90% renewable power in 2022. The company is the largest corporate purchaser of renewable energy since 2020.
Amazon Solar Farm Maryland – CPV Backbone is being built on the site of the recently closed Arch Coal mine in Garrett County, Maryland. Mining operations at the 120-year-old site had left the area contaminated with more than 450,000 cubic yards acres of coal refuse, which was later reclaimed by the state of Maryland.
“At Amazon, we’re constantly seeking innovative ways to bring more solar and wind projects online, both to power our operations, and to bring new sources of clean energy to the communities where our customers live and work,” said Nat Sahlstrom, head of energy, water and sustainability for Amazon Web Services (AWS). “It’s exciting to see a site that was once used to produce coal, a high-carbon fossil fuel, be repurposed into a clean energy project that will help inject tax revenue and jobs into the local community.”
Named after nearby Backbone Mountain, the project is expected to be the largest solar farm in Maryland once completed, according to publicly available data from the Energy Information Administration and PJM, and will include more than 300,000 solar panels. It’s also expected to employ more than 200 skilled workers during peak construction activities, most of which are expected to come from the tri-state area.
“CPV is pleased to partner with a leading company like Amazon to help it reach its renewable energy goals,” said Sean Finnerty, executive VP of renewable energy for CPV. “This project is a prime example of the opportunity we have to decarbonize our economy while repurposing brownfield sites and providing economic benefits and clean energy to our host communities.”
The EPA estimates that there are more than 450,000 brownfields in the US, which are an emerging opportunity for solar projects, as they are often located near power lines and public roads, making it easier to connect to the grid, and present an opportunity to turn unused property into an economic opportunity.
In Garrett County, the brownfield site’s proximity to existing power lines with available capacity means the solar farm will be able to quickly provide clean power to the grid once construction is finished.
“The CPV Backbone Solar project provides an array of economic and environmental benefits to the region and we are excited to learn that Amazon is supporting this project,” said Jennifer Walsh, executive director of The Greater Cumberland Committee (TGCC), the leading economic development organization in the region. “TGCC looks forward to working with CPV over the coming year as the construction ramps up.”
Amazon’s second renewable energy project in Kent County, Amazon Solar Farm Maryland – Morgnec, is one of Amazon’s first agrovoltaic solar projects, and will use bifacial solar panels to capture energy from the sun, while allowing for the land beneath to be used for growing crops.
The project will be built on 400 acres of land near the Eastern Shore, and will use sheep to graze around the panels, which will help control vegetation.
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