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Amazon Web Services transitions to renewable diesel for backup generators at data centers in Europe


Photo: Amazon.com Inc.

In January, Amazon Web Services started transitioning to hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO), also called renewable diesel, to power backup generators at its data-center sites in Europe, with sites in Ireland and Sweden among the first to make the switch.

Backup generators are used at data-center sites to provide backup power in the very rare instances when the main source of power is interrupted.

HVO is a renewable, biodegradable and nontoxic fuel that can be made from waste cooking oil or vegetable, plant, and residue oils.

It can reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by up to 90 percent over the fuel’s lifecycle when compared with fossil diesel.

HVO does not require any modification to the fuel systems and can remain stable even in the coldest winter temperatures.

This versatility allows AWS to fill the tanks of its backup generators with HVO without any operational changes and use it across different regions and colder climates.

In the future, AWS aims to use HVO at all its data-center sites across Europe.

For this to happen there has to be an accessible, steady and sustainable supply of HVO.

That’s why AWS is helping to develop a global supply chain, working with local organizations like Certa in Ireland, and is investing in the procurement of HVO that only comes from renewable sources, with raw materials that are traceable to their origins and not derived from sources that would impact highly biodiverse areas.

“We’re excited to be working with AWS to help drive their renewable energy transition through the supply of our HVO,” said Andrew Graham, managing director of Certa Ireland. “At Certa, our mission is to connect our customers with the most progressive energy solutions available, and as a straight drop-in replacement for conventional diesel, our HVO biofuel provides up to 90 percent reduction in carbon emissions instantly, with no generator retrofitting required. We look forward to continuing the energy-transition journey alongside AWS.”

Neil Morris, AWS’s director of infrastructure operations in Northern Europe, added, “At AWS, we’re committed to and invested in sustainability because it’s a win all around—it’s good for the planet, for business, for our customers and for our communities. Transitioning to HVO is just one of the many ways we’re improving the sustainability of our data centers, decarbonizing our operations, and working towards Amazon’s company-wide goal to meet net-zero carbon by 2040, 10 years ahead of the Paris Agreement. By making this commitment to using sustainably sourced HVO at our data-center sites, we hope to pave the way for other businesses, and help establish a global supply chain that will accelerate change across Europe, working in collaboration with other organizations.”

The move is a part of Amazon’s commitment to be net-zero carbon by 2040—10 years ahead of the Paris Agreement—and as outlined in the Climate Pledge, which Amazon cofounded in 2019.

The pledge now has more than 400 signatories, including Best Buy, IBM, Microsoft, PepsiCo, Siemens, Unilever, Verizon and Visa.

As part of this pledge, Amazon is on a path to powering its operations with 100 percent renewable energy by 2025, five years ahead of its initial 2030 target.


Amazon is the largest corporate buyer of renewable energy—a position it’s held since 2020 according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance—and it now has 401 projects globally, including 164 wind farms and solar farms, and 237 rooftop-solar projects on Amazon facilities.

In addition to transitioning to HVO, Amazon is investing in alternative fuel options to replace diesel and other fossil fuels to further decarbonize its operations.

For example, it signed an agreement with Plug Power to supply green hydrogen for transportation and building operations starting in 2025.

Amazon also currently has thousands of electric delivery vehicles from Rivian in more than 100 cities and regions in the U.S., thousands of electric vans delivering packages to customers in Europe, and several electric-vehicle partnerships in the Asia-Pacific region.

In addition, it is investing $2 billion in the development of decarbonizing services and solutions through the Climate Pledge Fund.

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