Online retail giant Amazon has agreed to increase its share of output from Ocean Winds’ Moray West offshore wind farm in Scotland to a total of 473MW.
The company signed a corporate power purchase agreement (CPPA) with ENGIE, which is one-half of the 50-50 EDP Renewables-ENGIE joint venture dedicated to offshore wind named Ocean Winds.
Situated in Moray Firth in the northeast of Scotland, the 882MW wind farm is currently under construction and will generate power later this year in 2024.
Ocean Winds is following an accelerated development and construction plan, having originally predicted a 2026/27 operational start date in its application for Auction Round 4 (AR4) of the Contracts for Difference (CfD) scheme.
The expected capacity from the site aims to support Amazon’s own accelerated goal of powering all operations with 100% renewable energy by 2025, five years ahead of the company’s original target.
The retail heavyweight currently has more than 500 wind and solar projects globally, and once operational, they are expected to generate more than 77TWh of clean energy each year.
Lindsay McQuade, director of energy, EMEA, Amazon Web Services, said: “Transitioning to carbon-free energy sources is one of the most impactful ways to lower carbon emissions, and is part of our Climate Pledge commitment to reach net zero carbon across our operations by 2040. Projects like Moray West will play a critical role in decarbonising Amazon’s operations and the UK grid, with this agreement demonstrating Amazon’s commitment to this ambition.”
Paulo Almirante, ENGIE senior executive vice president of renewables, added: “Moray West reflects our strategy to accelerate the transition towards a carbon-neutral world, through investing in renewable generation technologies.
“Furthermore, the innovative character of this CPPA shows that it is possible to create, together with Amazon, the conditions to achieve the UK objectives of renewables deployment and net zero economy.”
The power of offshore wind
Offshore wind has seen several surges in popularity in the UK, most notably in the Contract for Difference’s AR4, which was part of the UK government scheme to incentivise the development of renewable energy production sites.
The fourth auction round took place in July 2022 and saw almost 11GW of onshore wind, offshore wind, solar and tidal energy secure contracts, with 7GW of the projects being solely offshore wind.
Moray West wind farm was one of the winning projects from that auction round and has since secured £2 billion of non-recourse project finance.
Ocean Winds obtained these funds and reached a Final Investment Decision (FID) in April 2023, at which point the operational start date was estimated at 2025 – this has now been pushed forward to 2024.
The wind farm, however, does not mark Amazon’s first venture in the UK sustainability market, as the firm has a history of partnering with clean energy companies, predominantly in the electric vehicle (EV) space.
For example, in April 2021, Amazon secured a deal with EO Charging for EV chargepoint installations across the country in support of its fleet electrification.
Alongside the physical installations, EO Charging also provided software and maintenance services for the entirety of Amazon’s European fleet which, at the time, included thousands of zero-emission vehicles.
This partnership coincided with Amazon’s partnership with Mercedes-Benz Vans to add over 1,800 new zero-emission vehicles to its fleet, including 500 e-vans in the UK.
More recently, in October 2022, Amazon revealed plans to invest more than £880 million to electrify its European transportation network, with £300 million allocated to the UK specifically.
The investment will be made over five years and introduce environmentally friendly technologies such as public charging infrastructure, as well as allow for the purchase and roll out of 1,500 electric heavy goods vehicles in its European fleet, including 700 in the UK.