Amazon's fulfillment centers set to go solar

The effort is part of a broader move by the technology giant to expand its use of clean energy.

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Aerial view of an Amazon fulfillment center with solar systems on its rooftop.

Amazon said Thursday that it plans to retrofit its fleet of fulfillment and sortation centers with massive solar panel systems in an effort to expand its use of clean energy.

Amazon said the solar panels could generate as much as 80 percent of a single fulfillment center's annual energy needs, depending on the location and time of year.

The first wave of solar panel projects, set to be completed by the end of this year, will produce as much as 41 megawatts of power at facilities in California, New Jersey, Maryland, Nevada, and Delaware. By 2020, Amazon plans to deploy solar panel systems at 50 of its facilities around the globe.

"We are putting our scale and inventive culture to work on sustainability -- this is good for the environment, our business and our customers," Dave Clark, senior vice president of worldwide operations, said in a statement. "By diversifying our energy portfolio, we can keep business costs low and pass along further savings to customers. It's a win-win."

Amazon's other renewable energy projects include a giant wind farm in Texas, and a network of wind and solar farms in Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio, and Virginia that deliver energy onto an electric grid that powers AWS data centers.

But even with its grand energy commitments, Amazon is still highly criticized -- mostly by the environmental organization Greenpeace -- for its lack of transparency surrounding energy consumption and the way it sources renewable energy.

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