How Microsoft Got To 285 MW Of Wind Energy In 2 Years
Over the past two years, Microsoft has contracted for 285 MW of renewable power from two off-site wind energy projects. These two wind farms—capable of generating enough electricity to power 125,000 U.S. homes—could not have been built without the long-term off-take agreement provided by Microsoft, demonstrating the large-scale impact that companies can have on renewable energy deployment. The Business Renewables Center (BRC), an RMI-convened initiative and member-led platform, is working to accelerate corporate procurement of off-site renewable energy such as Microsoft’s, by bringing together corporate buyers, project developers, and service providers.
Managing Growing Energy Needs
Microsoft’s data center energy group—the principal champions of these transactions—pursued renewable energy contracts to both reduce costs and limit the company’s operational exposure to future energy price fluctuations, especially increases. The data center energy team recognized that as Microsoft developed its cloud-computing infrastructure, the construction of large data centers committed the company to purchasing large quantities of electricity to power these assets over their operating lifetimes. In fact, while building a data center can cost hundreds of millions of dollars, it can cost up twice that to power the building over its lifetime.
Fortunately, renewable energy power purchase agreements (PPAs) allowed the company to balance this large, long-term demand with a similarly large, long-term, fixed-cost supply. The energy group further justified the project by showing that these deals would save the company money. According to Brian Janous, Microsoft’s director of energy strategy, “Projects like this represent a good long-term bet for companies with significant dependencies on energy.”