Microsoft announced on Monday its largest purchase of wind energy to date in two agreements together representing 237 MW, bringing the company’s total investments in wind energy projects in the US to over 500 MW.
Microsoft has been consistent in its ambitions to green its operations, acquiring 285 MW of wind energy in the space of two years in deals that were pivotal in the development of two separate wind projects. The company was also listed alongside Apple and Google as new entrants to CDP’s 2015 Climate A Listers in November of last year. Microsoft also announced just this past September that it intends to reach a renewable energy target of 50% by 2018 — at which point it was already at 44%.
So this week’s announcement should come as no real surprise, although the size of the deal is nevertheless impressive.
“Microsoft is committed to building a responsible cloud, and these agreements represent progress toward our goal of improving the energy mix at our datacenters,” said Brad Smith, president and chief legal officer at Microsoft. “Our commitment extends beyond greening our own operations because these projects help create a greener, more reliable grid in the communities in which we operate.”
The two new agreements are broken into two separate wind energy projects:
The first contract is with Allianz Risk Transfer (ART), which will see Microsoft benefit from fixed long-term energy costs, as well as purchase the environmental attributes connected with the new 178 MW Bloom Wind project being developed in Kansas, which is being developed by Capital Power in partnership with ART. Specifically, the Bloom Wind project is the first to use a new structure developed by ART which is designed to offset high upfront costs associated with the creation of large-scale wind projects. Microsoft is therefore the first buyer to participate in this structure, which could have the potential to speed the development of clean energy projects.
“It is important for investors in renewable energy projects to secure long-term, stable revenues, and our structure does just that,” said Karsten Berlage, managing director of ART. “We are thrilled to be partnering with Microsoft on this groundbreaking project.”
The second agreement sees Microsoft contracting with Black Hills Corp, a subsidiary of Black Hills Energy, under a long-term agreement to purchase 59 MW of renewable energy certificates from the Happy Jack and Silver Sage wind projects, both adjacent to Microsoft’s Cheyenne, Wyoming, datacenter.
“Our longstanding partnership with Microsoft productively led to this landmark collaboration,” said David R. Emery, chairman and CEO of Black Hills Corp. “This collaboration provided them the opportunity to utilize 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.”
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