Microsoft’s Biogas-Powered Data Plant Opens in Wyoming –

Nov 7, 2014   |   Josh Henretig

Two years ago, we announced a partnership with a number of private and public sector partners to build the first zero-carbon datacenter, called a Data Plant—a fuel cell-powered datacenter that simplifies the power distribution infrastructure by bringing together the power plant with the datacenter to radically improve efficiency. We are excited to ann4188.clip_image002_thumb_297135D4ounce that yesterday, the new Data Plant officially opened with a “cable-cutting” ceremony at the water treatment facility that will be used to power the Data Plant.

This opening is a milestone in our ongoing efforts to pursue carbon neutrality through innovative, sustainable energy investments. “Our objective is to transform the energy supply chain of our datacenters toward greater efficiency and reduced environmental impact,” said Christian Belady, General Manager of Datacenter Services, Microsoft. “This is an important investment as Microsoft continues to pursue energy efficiency and clean energy projects. We’re excited that our private and public sector partners like those in Wyoming share our commitment to exploring innovative renewable solutions that can help lead to a more sustainable future for everyone.”

To make this concept a reality, Microsoft partnered with the University of Wyoming, Business Council, Cheyenne LEADS, Cheyenne Board of Public Utilities, the Western Research Institute, Connecticut-based FuelCell Energy, and other industry and state and local government partners. The project uses biogas produced by recycled common waste byproducts at the Dry Creek wastewater facility to power the fuel cell at the Data Plant. The fuel cell converts the biogas into electricity to power the Microsoft IT server container. The Data Plant is expected to produce 250 kilowatts of renewable power but only use about 100 kW, so the remaining power will be delivered back to the wastewater treatment plant to reduce its expenses by using the power.

Microsoft has made great strides to make datacenters more energy efficient. We see this Data Plant in Cheyenne as an important step in demonstrating a new way to power data centers, and will also use the plant as a way to continue biogas and fuel cell research so that we can continue to innovate and find new ways to reduce our environmental impact.

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