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Solar news: May 29th, 2020

In this week’s Solar News Roundup, we’re talking net-zero plans. We’re highlighting two companies working on ambitious net-zero carbon emissions roadmaps: Southern Company, who pledged net-zero carbon emissions by the year 2050, and Amazon, who bought another massive chunk of solar energy to power operations.

Southern Company pledges net-zero carbon emissions by 2050

Another utility giant is pledging net-zero emissions – this time, it’s Southern Company, the parent of Georgia Power and Atlanta Gas Light. This past Wednesday, the company said it will reduce its carbon emissions to net zero by the year 2050, shifting a previous pledge including 50 percent emissions cut by 2030 and “low to no” carbon emissions by 2050.

Of the pledge, Southern Company Chairman and CEO Tom Fanning said, “We produce these goals because they are good for customers and communities that we are privileged to serve. Furthermore, these goals align with Southern Company’s risk-adjusted business strategy.”

Uniquely, one method Southern hopes to use to achieve their goal is with carbon scrubbing technology, or removing carbon directly from the air. The technology to do so isn’t fully developed, but Fanning has said that planting trees and other carbon-storing plants will also be a potential method to supplement advances in carbon scrubbing technology.

Amazon buys 615 megawatts of large-scale solar

Adding to an already large portfolio of renewables, Amazon has announced a purchase of 615 megawatts (MW) of new solar projects. The announcement brings the company’s total renewables portfolio (both existing and announced) to 2.9 gigawatts (GW).

The projects will be located around the world in Australia, China, and the United States, and will be primarily used to power Amazon’s shipping warehouses and data centers. The largest volume of new solar energy will come in the U.S., with two installations between Ohio and Virginia totaling a combined 410 MW. Amazon has a stated goal of reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2040, and 100 percent renewable energy by 2030. The company suggested that, with this new purchase, they may be able to reach 100 percent renewables early, by 2025. 

The move isn’t without criticism, however. Amazon has been facing pressure from environmental advocacy groups for some time now to include the computing services it offers to help companies transport and sell fossil fuels in its carbon footprint calculations.


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