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November 15, 2016

Microsoft bets big on wind energy for green data centres

Tech giant has made its largest wind energy purchase to date.

By CBR Staff Writer

Microsoft has entered into two agreements to buy wind energy produced from wind farms in the US, which will power its data centres in the states of Kansas and Wyoming.

It has entered into power purchase agreements with Allianz Risk Transfer (ART) and Black Hill Energy to buy wind energy as it looks to improve data centre green energy.

Allianz Risk Transfer will be supplying power from its 178MW Bloom Wind project in Kansas. The project will use a risk management solution which can offset high upfront costs associated with the development of large-scale wind projects.

The new division will be headed by Harry Shum, a computer vision expert and a 20 year Microsoft veteran.

Microsoft says that it is the first buyer to participate in this structure, which has the potential to bring clean energy projects online at a faster pace.

The second wind energy agreement is with Black Hills Corp, a subsidiary of Black Hills Energy. As per the long term power purchase agreement, Microsoft will purchase 59MW of clean energy from the Happy Jack and Silver Sage wind projects.

These projects are located adjacent to the company’s data centres in Cheyene, Wyoming.

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Power supplied from Bloom wind project and Happy Jack/ Silver Sage wind projects will be enough to cover the annual energy needs of the data centre.

Microsoft and Black Hills Energy have come out with a new tariff plan, available for all eligible customers. As per the plan, the utility will tap into the local data centre’s backup generators during peak hours or outages.

This will eliminate the need for constructing a new power plant and Microsoft noted that this tariff plan received Wyoming Public Service Commission’s approval in July, this year.

Black Hills chairman and CEO said David R. Emery said: “Our longstanding partnership with Microsoft productively led to this landmark collaboration.

“This collaboration provided them the opportunity to utilise significantly more renewable energy while still ensuring the reliability they’ve come to expect through our energy infrastructure and generation resources.

“We are proud to be a strong supporter and partner in their mission to power their datacenters with increased renewable energy resources, and look forward to our continued collaboration in the years ahead.”

Microsoft cloud infrastructure strategy and architecture general manager Christian Belady said: “We are constantly looking for new ways to approach energy challenges and avenues of engagement with our utility partners. The team worked closely with ART to come up with a completely new model to enable faster adoption of renewables.

“Likewise, the tight engagement with Black Hills created the opportunity for Microsoft’s datacenter to become an asset for the local grid, maintaining reliability and reducing costs for ratepayers. This kind of deep collaboration with utilities has great potential to accelerate the pace of clean energy, benefitting all customers — not just Microsoft.”

Latest deals are Microsoft’s third and fourth wind energy agreements after signing deals for 175MW Pilot Hill wind project in Illinois and 110MW Keechi wind project in Texas.

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