Once the darling of the tech world, Microsoft is nevertheless still a software and hardware juggernaut, and the company has revealed that it intends to reach a renewable energy target of 50% by 2018.
Microsoft’s chief environmental and cities strategist Rob Bernard, writing on the company’s Green Blog in the wake of his speech delivered to the clean tech convention VERGE16, explained how Microsoft is aiming to lead the “sustainable data revolution.” A number of companies with big data capacity — such as Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft — are hearing the call of consumers to clean their energy usage, and are doing so by purchasing and developing more and more clean electricity to power their massive data centers.
“As we begin to tap the power of the cloud to address these challenges, we must also ensure that we are building a responsible cloud,” Bernard wrote.
“Tremendous amounts of energy will be required to power this data-driven revolution. The leading cloud companies have a responsibility to address this energy usage. And Microsoft believes that, as large energy consumers, we have the opportunity to drive change that will benefit not only our company but the world.”
As a result, Microsoft revealed that it is committed to improving its energy mix, increasing the percentage of wind, solar, and hydropower energy purchased to power its data centers to 50% by 2018, to 60% “early in the next decade and to an ongoing and higher percentage in years beyond that.”
Microsoft is already at 44% renewable energy purchased, and in March signed a deal to develop a 20 MW solar farm in Virginia, US.
Microsoft is also a member of the 100% renewable energy target initiative RE100, joining early on in the campaign by already being able to boast 100% renewable energy usage for its global operations.
“As Microsoft has transitioned from a software company to a mobile-first, cloud-first company, our energy footprint has changed. Data centers are critical to enabling and powering our cloud offerings, but they also consume a great deal of electricity,” explained Bernard in an interview with RE100. “This is both our biggest challenge and opportunity — as a technology company we have great tools to use electricity more smartly.”
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