Amazon Web Services (AWS) is transitioning from diesel to hydrogenated vegetable oil (HVO) to power its backup generators in Europe, to begin with in Sweden. HVO is a renewable, biodegradable, and non-toxic 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% over the fuel’s lifecycle when compared with fossil diesel.
In January 2023, Amazon Web Services (AWS) started transitioning to hydrotreated vegetable oil to power backup generators at its data centre sites in Europe, with sites in Sweden and Ireland among the first to make the switch. Backup generators are used at data centre sites to provide back up power in the very rare instances when the main source of power is interrupted.
Developing a global supply chain
HVO and other renewable diesels are proven to be more compatible with industrial machinery than biodiesel as they don’t 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 centre 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 organisations 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.
Net-zero carbon by 2040
Neil Morris, Director of Infrastructure Operations, Northern Europe, at AWS said: “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 centres, decarbonising our operations, and working towards Amazon’s company-wide goal to meet net-zero carbon by 2040, ten years ahead of the Paris Agreement. By making this commitment to using sustainably-sourced HVO at our data centres 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 organisations.”