Amazon has canceled plans to use gas-powered fuel cells at a data center in Oregon.

The company last year applied for permission to power three of its data centers in Morrow County with natural gas fuel cells. The Bloom Energy cells would provide around 24MW to each of the three data center sites, the application said, adding that the technology could be used at four additional Amazon facilities in future.

Amazon had planned to pipe gas into its Oregon data centers – Kodda/Getty Images

However, OregonLive reported this week that the application has been withdrawn.

“At this time, we are not continuing with fuel cell projects in our Oregon operations,” an Amazon spokesperson told OregonLive.

Amazon promoted the use of the fuel as a low-carbon alternative to drawing electricity from the main grid. “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,” the company said last year.

Morrow County gets most of its electricity via hydropower provided by the Morrow Point Dam, and state regulator the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (ODEQ) said last year that if Amazon switched to the fuel cells it would increase the carbon footprint of its data centers. The ODEQ said the change would lead to facilities emitting the equivalent of 250,000 tons of carbon dioxide annually.

Fuel cell technology has been hailed as a cleaner alternative to fossil fuels. According to the US Energy Information Administration, electricity generated from coal in the US produces about 1kg of CO2 per kWh, while electricity from oil produces about 1.1kg. In comparison, natural gas produces 430g of CO2 per kWh.

However, this remains much higher than the emissions from solar (48g/kWh), wind (12g/kWh), and nuclear (12g/kWh), per figures from the World Nuclear Association.

Amazon has been making efforts to procure more renewable energy in Oregon, and in February signed a power purchase agreement to buy power from Leaning Juniper IIA, now known as the Amazon Wind Farm Oregon. The site in Gillam County will have a capacity of 98.4MW generated by 40 turbines.

Speaking to OregonLive, Joshua Basofin, clean energy program director for the environmental nonprofit Climate Solutions, said: “The withdrawal of Amazon’s fuel cell proposal shows we can pivot from fossil fuels to renewable power generation.

“This development, combined with Amazon’s investment in the Leaning Juniper wind project, demonstrates progress toward powering data centers with clean energy.”