Complete Story


How Amazon Became the World's Largest Buyer of Renewable Energy

Amazon’s fervor has been felt across the industry

When Richard and Carson Harkrader first heard that 696 acres of North Carolina farmland had come up for sale, in 2016, one feature of the rolling landscape particularly caught their attention: the power lines that sliced across it as though someone had dog-eared its map. Hard up against the Virginia border, it was a pretty spot—pretty enough that a home builder would eventually take a quarter of the acres for a lakefront subdivision.

But for the Harkraders, father-and-daughter operators of Carolina Solar Energy, an independent developer of solar-energy projects, the prettiest thing of all were those heavy-duty transmission lines that arced to the northwest, lacing into the PJM Interconnection, the giant electric grid that dominates the mid-Atlantic.

“It was kind of a gold rush,” the elder Harkrader said one morning this summer, standing amid the hundreds of thousands of glistening black panels, now known as Hawtree Creek Solar Farm, that follow the curve of the hills and tower over our heads. By mid-morning, the panels are sending 34 megawatts out to the grid, about the same as 10,000 backyard generators buzzing at once. By noon, it’s 65 megawatts—the maximum the grid will take. “I still think it’s magic,” Harkrader said. “Take sunlight and... boom!” Except the only noise is the occasional creaking of their steel frames, as small motors tilt the panels to follow the arc of the sun across the Carolina sky.

Please select this link to read the complete article from TIME.

Printer-Friendly Version