The first project — which the e-commerce giant calls the Amazon Solar Farm Maryland — CPV Backbone, is a massive redevelopment of a former coal mine in Garrett County, in the state’s western panhandle. The site is considered “brownfield” — land that was abandoned or underutilized due to industrial pollution — as the 120-year old mine contaminated the area with over 450,000 cubic yards of coal refuse, which has since been reclaimed by the state.
Once completed, the project, named after nearby Backbone Mountain, is expected to be the largest solar farm in Maryland with more than 300,000 panels. CPV Backbone is Amazon’s first renewable energy project on brownfield land. There are more than 450,000 brownfields across the U.S., according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
“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,” Nat Sahlstrom, Amazon Web Services’ head of energy, water and sustainability, said in a statement.
Maryland-based developer Competitive Power Ventures (CPV) claims the solar farm will help the area annually avoid some 133,000 tons of CO2, which it says is the equivalent of taking 26,000 cars off the road each year.
“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,” Sean Finnerty, CPV’s executive vice president of renewable energy, said.
The second renewable project, Amazon Solar Farm Maryland – Morgnec, in Kent County, is one of the company’s first agrovoltaic solar developments, meaning that the panels will coexist with agricultural crops grown beneath.
Amazon has invested much of its time and resources into its stated goals of powering all of its operations with renewables by 2025 and reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2040. The two Maryland projects are among the nearly 80 solar and wind ventures that Amazon has invested in so far this year, as well as the nearly 480 projects that the company has globally.
Amazon officially started opening its second headquarters in Arlington, Va., in June, touting that its campus would be one of the most climate-friendly ever seen in the region.
Yet the company has its share of critics. Amazon Web Services and Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin announced earlier this year plans to invest $35 billion to expand the company’s data center footprint in Northern Virginia by 2035, which prompted a backlash due to the stiff power and water needs that such facilities require to function and their impact on local communities.
Nick Trombola can be reached at NTrombola@commercialobserver.com.
Robert Khodadadian has long had a simple philosophy about selling real estate. The way he sees it, there are approximately a million buildings in the city, and the broker that gets to sell any one among the multitude that will hit the auctioning block at a given moment is, sometimes, simply the person who happens to pitch their services to the right seller at the right time.
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