Microsoft Just Got Serious On Wind Energy (MSFT)

Committed to being more than just a giant IT company, Microsoft turns to more wind to power its ever-growing cloud.

Microsoft MSFT Wind Energy

Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) has just announced that they have signed their largest wind energy deal — a 237 megawatt purchase that will enable their Cheyenne, Wyoming datacenter to be powered entirely by wind. The announcement was made on November 14 via the company’s blog.

Through Allianz Risk Transfer (ART), Microsoft acquired 178 megawatts from the Bloom Wind Project in Kansas. Supposedly, this is the first project that will make use of ART’s innovative system designed to facilitate a more efficient and cost-effective way to finance wind generation while minimizing the risks associated with uncertain power volume generation.

Through Black Hills Corp., they purchased an additional 59 megawatts from the Happy Jack and Silver Sage wind farms in Wyoming. Combined, these sources should be enough to power their Cheyenne, Wyoming datacenter on a yearly basis.

Moreover, through the partnership with Black Hill Energy, the agreement also included the provision that the site’s backup generators will serve as a secondary resource for the local grid. Meaning, the generators will support the local community by providing additional energy during high demand periods, and consequently helping eliminate the need to build a new power plant, as well as avoid the need to raise power rates.

According to Microsoft President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith: “Microsoft is committed to building a responsible cloud… Our commitment extends beyond greening our own operations because these projects help create a greener, more reliable grid in the communities in which we operate.”

Currently, Microsoft has a 110-megawatt power 20-year purchase agreement with Keechi Wind farm in Texas and another 175-megawatt agreement with the Pilot Hill Wind Project in Illinois. The company also has a partnership with the Commonwealth of Virginia and Dominion Virginia Power. The goal is to bring 20 megawatts of solar energy onto the grid in Virginia.

All in all, Redmond has purchased a total of 500 megawatts of energy from wind power sources. With their latest purchases, they are well on their way to making good on their promise to shift to “greener data centers”.

This year, around 44% of their electricity has already been generated from renewable resources — hydropower, solar power and wind power. By 2018, the software giant is hoping to increase this number to 50%. After a few years, Microsoft is hoping to increase it again to 60%, then continue to improve from there.

Microsoft, Amazon, Alphabet Inc.’s Google and a few other tech names are trying to find efficient ways to support growth of their cloud services. In the blog post announcing the new green data center goals, Microsoft’s Brad Smith acknowledged that “data centers will rank by the middle of the next decade among the large users of electrical power on the planet.”

Considering how sustainability, renewable energy, and going green have become some of the most significant terms in our world that’s dealing with the threat of climate change and global warming, it’s encouraging to see some of the biggest companies doing their share and sincerely working towards becoming part of the solution. For the sake of us all, we hope more of them will join the club soon.

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