Tuesday, 22 July 2014
Microsoft Signs Wind Power Deal in Illinois
The latest green datacentre news out of America comes from none other than Microsoft, the blue-chip software-maker that everyone loves to hate yet this little bit of news is one that all of us in Europe should appreciate. The Redmond, Washington company recently announced the signing of a brand-new energy deal that will see it purchasing a considerable amount of wind power from a project currently under construction outside Chicago, Illinois.
Microsoft announced the deal through a post on their Microsoft Green Blog dated 15 July (2014). According to the post's author, Robert Bernard, the company signed a 20-year deal to purchase as much as 675,000 MWh of renewable energy from the Pilot Hill wind project annually. The new wind farm is currently under construction at a location approximately 60 miles from Chicago.
The Pilot Hill agreement is not Microsoft's first foray into renewable energy. Late last year it signed a deal to purchase wind power from the Keechi project in north-central Texas. Keechi will have a capacity of 110 MW when it is complete next year, as opposed to the 175 MW capacity at Pilot Hill.
In addition, Microsoft's data centre in Quincy, Washington is run primarily by hydropower. Another facility in Austin, Texas uses recycled wastewater for cooling purposes. Moreover, in an innovative new project still being developed, the company is working on creating server racks with built-in fuel cells that could eventually enable the technology giant to generate its own energy in-house.
As for Pilot Hill, all of the energy it generates will be put into the local grid as supplemental power. The funds collected through Microsoft's carbon tax are being used, in part, to build the wind project, completing a full circle of green energy creation and greenhouse gas emission reduction. Microsoft hopes that signing the deal will encourage more green energy development in order to reduce dependence on fossil fuels.
Microsoft's willingness to utilise renewable energy sources to power its data centres is in keeping with other technology companies that have been doing likewise. For example, Google has been one of America's biggest boosters of green energy initiatives in the technology sector for a number of years. It is something companies are embracing to help both their businesses and the environment.
Having said that, we find Microsoft's fuel-cell project to be even more intriguing. Could this be the energy of the future for the world's data centres? If the company can turn its proof-of-concept model into commercial reality, it could be the first to build a completely self-sustaining data centre with no need for power from the grid. Transferring the technology to other data centres would require very little change in infrastructure, making it a very cost-effective transition.
The concept of having fuel cells installed side-by-side on server racks is intriguing to say the least. Microsoft plans a demonstration of the technology later this year; we look forward to seeing what it does.
Source: Microsoft – http://blogs.msdn.com/b/microsoft-green/archive/2014/07/15/microsoft-announces-largest-wind-project-to-date.aspx