Microsoft & Qcells Announce Strategic Alliance To Build Resilient Solar Supply Chain

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In a previous article, I discussed two corporate solar energy deals that we’ve covered previously, but to make a real trend, you need at least three (because twice is only a coincidence). Truth be told, we’ve seen a number of partnerships like this, but this is the first time I’ve seen so many of these in just a two-month period. So, it’s not just a pattern, it’s one that’s accelerating.

I recently came across a third similar deal to the last two that I’ll get into in this part.

Microsoft’s Partnership With Qcells

Qcells, a company that considers itself a global solar leader, has joined forces with Microsoft Corp., an esteemed technology giant which needs no introduction, and is dedicated to becoming carbon negative by 2030, to create a sustainable supply chain for new renewable energy capacity estimated at 2.5 gigawatts of solar panels and related services — which is similar to powering more than 400,000 households.

Hanwha Solutions, based in Seoul and the owner of Qcells, will be collaborating with Microsoft to build solar projects. Additionally, it will also supply panels along with engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) services for particular solar projects that Microsoft has contracted through power purchase agreements (PPAs).

Microsoft is dedicated to using renewable energy, with an aim of obtaining 100% renewables for its electricity use by 2025. To further this ambition, Microsoft has launched sustainability initiatives to promote the production of green power equipment across the globe in places they operate. Leading these efforts is Qcells — the sole company in America offering a full-fledged solar supply chain and singularly clean energy solutions — by supporting its solar products manufactured locally as well as abroad to bring more renewable sources into our grid systems.

One of the biggest things they’re focusing on is to localize solar production to bring solar-related emissions down. This revolutionary collaboration unites their shared ambitions of diversifying the global energy industry, leading its development in both domestic and international markets, while decreasing carbon footprints simultaneously. Together they are working towards creating more dependable energy supply chains with clean sources of renewable power at its core.

“Building a resilient solar energy supply chain is essential to advancing a global green energy economy. Microsoft’s partnership with Qcells will help make this vision a reality by bringing innovation and investment to rural Georgia,” said Brad Smith, vice chair and president, Microsoft. “As one of the world’s largest purchasers of renewable energy, this work will help bring more solar energy to the grid, faster.”

The need for American-made solar products is projected to be on the rise, and Qcells intends to take advantage of this by establishing itself as a one-stop shop with all clean energy solutions available. As the only company in the US that has an entire supply chain dedicated solely to solar power, it’s poised to become a leader among developers of sustainable energy sources such as storage systems, EPC expertise, and smart management software. All these resources work together towards providing comprehensive clean energy options while simultaneously contributing towards mitigating global climate change.

“We’re striving to build and deliver turnkey clean energy solutions, including those made in America, and this partnership with Microsoft will help accomplish this vision,” said Justin Lee, CEO of Qcells. “Similarly, Qcells is proud to play a role with Microsoft to bring more renewable energy online in the years to come. This first step is only the beginning of a great partnership that not only supports our two companies but helps deliver a clean energy future for customers and communities.”

Looking At These Three Deals Together

While it’s relatively easy for a small business to contact a solar company and get panels put on their roof, these deals show that doing more is better here. Not only can the end result be cleaner and better for the big company doing the deal, but they can leave things better than they were when they found them.

For one, the sheer scale of what some of these larger corporations need (Home Depot and Microsoft, especially) means that it may be more efficient to work with things like power purchase agreements and off-site solar farms. There’s just not always enough roof space to cover all needs, but an electron is an electron, so putting energy into the grid elsewhere still makes up for the company’s energy use that can’t be covered locally on the roof.

Another important aspect to two of these partnerships (Patagonia/Next and Microsoft/Qcells) is that they’re able to use their large resources to try new things that aren’t currently happening.

For the Patagonia/Next deal, they’re trying a completely new way to put solar power on a building. The power outputs are low and any product in low-volume construction isn’t going to be cheap, but they’re proving the technology out for other people (often smaller players) to take bigger advantage of later. Often, larger corporations get accused of taking a dump on the little guy, but this is a case where they’re doing the opposite and using their big guns to help the little guys later.

For Microsoft, changing how the business works and getting more solar production into the United States is a big deal. Instead of taking the lazy approach and just buying panels that have to take a ride on a dirty container ship, they’re taking charge of the process with this partnership to help move and expand production. This will not only mean Microsoft gets cleaner power for themselves, but the increased production will benefit the people who buy after they’re done.

Going back to the 90s, Microsoft has a bad reputation for being monopolistic and greedy. Don’t believe me? Just watch this funny clip from The Simpsons from the period:

Now, we’re seeing Microsoft make a move that’s the opposite of what it was known for in the 90s. Like Patagonia, it is doing something that will benefit others who come behind them instead of taking up the ladder. That’s a great thing to see, and I hope we see more of it.

Featured image provided by The Home Depot.

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Jennifer Sensiba

Jennifer Sensiba is a long time efficient vehicle enthusiast, writer, and photographer. She grew up around a transmission shop, and has been experimenting with vehicle efficiency since she was 16 and drove a Pontiac Fiero. She likes to get off the beaten path in her "Bolt EAV" and any other EVs she can get behind the wheel or handlebars of with her wife and kids. You can find her on Twitter here, Facebook here, and YouTube here.

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