Microsoft’s innovative approach invests in more clean energy to power growth of datacenters

Nov 14, 2016   |   Athima Chansanchai

As demand increases for its cloud services around the world, Microsoft is breaking new ground with innovative solutions: It’s collaborating with utilities to increase the amount of clean energy it uses to run its datacenters — and in one recent deal, is even using its own generators to help the local power company bring energy to nearby residents and businesses when it’s needed most.

In the often-complicated world of energy markets, insurance and regulations, these kinds of collaborations with utilities are a straightforward win-win: Making not only datacenters, but also the energy grid, greener. Public cloud datacenters like the one in Cheyenne, Wyoming, are no longer just consuming energy but producing it, embracing a new role as “prosumers.”

The path to greener datacenters begins with using more clean energy to power them. Across the tech sector, it is predicted that datacenters will rank among the largest users of electrical power on the planet by the middle of the next decade.

Microsoft has been steadily working to increase the amount of clean energy used to power its datacenters. Currently, about 44 percent of that power is generated by wind, solar and hydropower sources. In May, Brad Smith, Microsoft president and chief legal officer, outlined the company’s ambition and set a target of 50 percent by 2018 and 60 percent early in the next decade, with the ultimate goal of achieving 100 percent in future years.

The recent deal — two agreements signed by Microsoft — will make substantial progress towards meeting its 50 percent goal.

Microsoft will reach that goal with the help of two sources, the 59-megawatt Happy Jack and Silver Sage wind farms in Wyoming and a 178-megawatt wind project in neighboring Kansas.

Get the full story at the Microsoft News Center and Microsoft on the Issues.

Athima Chansanchai
Microsoft News Center Staff

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