: Amazon fuel cells at Oregon data centers would use natural gas

Feb 20, 2023 | Posted by MadalineDunn

It has been revealed that in Oregon, Amazon is planning to power at least three of its Oregon data centers with natural gas fuel cells. That said, the number could be as high as seven. Amazon proposes the fuel cell technology it will use will oxidize the fossil fuel to generate electricity. However, unlike with hydrogen, where the only byproducts are electricity and water vapor, natural gas produces CO2. This moves the giant away from its pledge to procure 100% renewable energy for its operations by 2025. 

According to the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, 250,000 tons of carbon dioxide would be emitted annually and would also potentially contravene the clean energy bill being put before the Oregon Legislature. Likewise, Oregon DEQ says that the emissions from the oxidizing fuel cells are “essentially the same as combustion of natural gas.”

In a written statement, Amazon said: “We are investing in fuel cells as a way to power a small number of our operations in Oregon. We continually innovate to minimize our impact on our neighbors, local resources, and the environment and this technology provides a pathway for less carbon intensive solutions in the region.”

Angus Duncan, former chair of the Oregon Global Warming Commission and consultant to the National Resources Defense Council, commented: “If they want to use fuel cells there, let them use fuel cells there but let them confine themselves to no more liberal an emissions structure than the investor-owned utilities have committed to.” Further he said Amazon “can get [power] from a magic globe as far as I’m concerned. That’s not the issue. The issue is their emissions.”

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