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​Amazon turns warehouse roofs into solar power stations

Fifteen warehouses with solar panels will crank out 41 megawatts of power -- and mean you won't have to pay as much for Amazon services.

Amazon is installing solar panels on 15 warehouses in 2017.​
Amazon is installing solar panels on 15 warehouses in 2017.

The solar bug has bitten Amazon.

The e-commerce behemoth said Thursday it's installing solar panels on 15 fulfillment centers this year, enough to generate up to 41 megawatts of power, and plans to expand to 50 of its sites by 2020.

The move is good for Amazon and the planet, said Dave Clark, senior vice president of worldwide operations, in a statement. "This is good for the environment, our business and our customers. By diversifying our energy portfolio, we can keep business costs low and pass along further savings to customers," he said.

Amazon also has invested in a lot of renewable energy generated by wind turbines already.

How much power will Amazon solar warehouses pump out? US homes consume power at a rate of about 1.2 kilowatts on average, so Amazon's generation capacity would be enough to power something like 34,000 homes. Except of course that solar energy only works during the daytime, so you need other sources of power on the grid as well.

Solar energy continues to spread across the country. Homes, businesses and power companies installed 4,143 megawatts of solar power generation capacity in the third quarter of 2016, bringing the country's total solar to 35.8 gigawatts, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.