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Amazon promises to run entirely on renewable energy... finally

Microsoft made the pledge, as did Google. Amazon took a bit longer to crunch the numbers, but it's ready to bite the bullet and begin reducing its reliance on coal, oil, and gas energy sources.

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Image: Amazon via CNET

Amazon has promised to achieve 100 percent renewable energy usage for its global footprint, the company announced on Wednesday.

No firm deadline was given, but it's likely to take many years. 

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In an updated page on its Amazon Web Services (AWS) site, the online retail turned cloud giant said it's made a long-term commitment to reduce its reliance on non-renewable energy sources.

Amazon currently stands as one of the "dirtiest" companies on the list of datacenter operators and cloud providers as ranked by Greenpeace's annual scorecard

But, Amazon is not the first company to make this pledge. Apple, Google, and Facebook have previously promised to run their vast datacenter operations on clean energy, including wind and solar power sources. 

The Seattle, Wash.-based technology giant introduced its first carbon-neutral datacenter region — US West (Oregon) — three years ago, with more than three AWS regions now considered clean, including its AWS GovCloud for government customers.

The move by the largest cloud computing company in the world will be a source of relief to clean energy advocates.

Greenpeace said in prepared remarks emailed to ZDNet that the "race to build a green internet may be gaining a crucial new competitor."

That said, in some tepid criticism, the environmental group said the company should be more transparent about the way it intends to achieve these goals. Rival companies, notably Apple and Google, already laid out their plans to cut down their energy usage. Amazon has yet to reveal exactly how it plans to cut down on its carbon fuel sources.

Bottom line: It's a step in the right direction, but more can be done. And more will be expected if Amazon is to win over the green lobby any time soon.