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Inside Microsoft’s 15-year wind energy deal in Ireland

Microsoft will buy 100% of the electricity produced by a new wind farm in Ireland. Compelo reveals why corporates believe renewable energy is a smart investment.

On paper, Microsoft and a wind farm in south-west Ireland appear to be unlikely business partners.

However, the software giant co-founded by billionaire Bill Gates has become the latest company to boost its green energy credentials by agreeing to buy all the electricity produced for the next 15 years by the 37MW Tullahennel wind farm.

Microsoft wind energy investments

The General Electric (GE) facility in County Kerry will generate electricity for Microsoft’s cloud computing services.

The company will also acquire an Irish energy supply licence, meaning it can sell surplus electricity into Ireland’s power grid. The new project will bring Microsoft’s total global direct procurement in renewable energy projects to almost 600MW.

Microsoft Wind Energy - Compelo

“Our investment will help bring new, clean energy to the Irish grid, and contains innovative elements that have the potential to grow the capacity, reliability and capability of the grid to incorporate new clean power sources like wind energy,” said Christian Belady, general manager, datacentre strategy at Microsoft. “And that is good for the environment, for Ireland and for our company.”

Integrated battery technology

In addition, the wind turbines at Tullahennel will be integrated with a battery that feeds power back to the grid on demand, the first time this has been tried in Europe.

As part of an initiative led by the Climate Group, more than 100 multinationals have committed to 100% renewable electricity. They include 40 US companies including Walmart and Coca-Cola.

As clean energy becomes cheaper, investing in wind and solar PV enables corporations to hit official emissions targets. Furthermore, in the case of Google, an early champion of green energy, reducing its carbon footprint reconnects the brand with its progressive Northern Californian roots.

Facebook leads renewable revolution

Not to be outdone, Facebook has announced plans to build a new solar-powered data centre in Virginia, US.

renewable energy - Compelo

So far in 2017, companies have announced power purchase agreements (PPAs) for more than 2GW of new renewable capacity in the US and Mexico alone, equivalent to two nuclear reactors.

“Our agreement with Microsoft paves the road not only for more clean energy in Ireland, but more collaboration on PPAs enabled by new power players and wind turbine manufacturers around the globe,” said GE Renewable Energy CCO Andres Isaza. “Wind is now one of the most competitive sources of electricity on the market today.”

Click here for an interview with Tom Kiernan, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association (EWEA). In addition, keep up with all the latest news and views from the wind energy industry in World Wind Technology.

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