Microsoft is one of the world’s internet giants, and also is it a major-purchaser of renewable energy. The company commits to building a greener, more responsible cloud so it has entered into several renewable energy purchasing agreements – the latest two agreements represented 237MW of wind energy.
On November 14, Microsoft announced two agreements on acquiring 237MW of wind energy facilities, representing the company’s largest purchase of wind energy to date. The agreements will allow Microsoft’s datecenter in Cheyenne, Wyoming to be powered entirely by wind power. Furthermore, they will bring the internet giant’s total investment in wind energy projects in the U.S. to above 500MW.
One of the agreements was signed with Allianz Risk Transfer (ART) to purchase the 178MW Bloom Wind project in Kansas. ARP applied a self-developed, novel structure and design onto this project to offset high upfront costs associated with the creation of large-scale wind projects, while Microsoft is the first buyer to participate in this structure.
The other agreement represented the purchase of the 59MW Happy Jack and Silver Sage wind projects developed by Black Hills Corp., subsidiary of Black Hills Energy. The wind projects are adjacent to Microsoft’s Cheyenne datacenter and will produce enough energy for it.
Microsoft and Black Hills Energy also worked together to create a new tariff, available to all eligible customers, that allows the utility to tap the local datacenter's backup generators, thereby eliminating the need for Black Hills Energy to construct a new power plant.
“Benefits from these latest wind deals extend well beyond Microsoft’s own facilities. They are good for the utilities, the environment and local ratepayers,” noted Microsoft.
Renewable energy goals & mix
Microsoft has been carbon neutral since June of 2012 and has been 100% powered by renewable energy since 2014, stated Microsoft Environment. To step further, Microsoft aims to create a greener operation for its datacenters, which is described as “Building a Responsible Cloud.”
Initially, Microsoft commits to having all its datacenters more reliant on renewable energies including wind, solar and hydropower. Clean electricity represents roughly 44% of Microsoft datacenters’ power consumption in the U.S.
Microsoft now owns, or purchases electricity from, the 20MW solar power plant in Virginia, the 110MW Keechi Wind project in Texas, the 59MW Happy Jack and Silver Sage wind projects in Wyoming, the 175MW Pilot Hill Wind project in Illinois, and the 178MW Bloom Wind project in Kansas. It aims to increase the percentage of wind, solar and hydropower energy it purchase directly and through the grid to 50% by 2018 and 60% early in the next decade, and further.
“We’re focused on building a cloud that serves the broader good, a cloud that is trusted, inclusive and responsible. That means thinking beyond our own operations and working with partners to accelerate the pace of clean energy and build a greener grid for all, while keeping costs low for customers and ratepayers,” said Brad Smith on Microsoft’s blog. “By thinking creatively about our energy needs and the assets at our datacenters, we’re able to deliver an innovative solution in Wyoming that does just that — and serves as a model from which we all can learn.”
(Graphic Source: Microsoft's blog)