A data centre is a big, energy consuming behemoth of a structure and is often incredibly damaging to the environment. Microsoft might be the biggest tech company on the planet, and is taking on the responsibility of showing how data centres can be more eco-friendly by signing a deal to power a data centre with 100 per cent renewable energy.
Microsoft announced on Monday that it has signed deals with two wind farms to power its Cheyenne, Wyomming data centre.
The company has contracted Bloom Wind farm in Kansas to provide 178 megawatts, and the Silver Sage and Happy Jack farms in Wyoming to provide an additional 59 megawatts of power to the centre.
Brad Smith, Microsoft’s president and chief legal officer, said: "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. 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."
This is not the company’s first clean energy deal. It already has a 75-megawatt agreement with a wind farm in Illinois, and a 100-megawatt agreement with one in Texas. In total, Microsoft has purchased 500 megawatts of energy from wind power sources.
Microsoft has also revealed that the site’s backup generators will be used as a “secondary resource” for the local grid, meaning that they will actually provide energy to the local community during periods of high demand.
"Benefits from these latest wind deals extend well beyond Microsoft’s own facilities. They are good for the utilities, the environment and local ratepayers"
These backup generators will burn natural gas, which is far better for the environment than diesel.
Microsoft hopes that by 2018, it will use around 50 percent renewable energy. This deal shows that the company is on the right track.
Smith said that in 2015 "roughly 44 percent of the electricity consumed by Microsoft’s datacenters comes from wind, solar and hydropower," and that the company is "committed to raising this to 50 percent by 2018 and to 60 percent by early in the next decade."
Hopefully this is a model that more companies can follow going forward, for the sake of the planet.