Microsoft just made the biggest solar purchase in U.S. history

Adding 315MW of electricity from sPower in Virginia.

Microsoft has announced the single largest corporate purchase of solar power ever seen in the U.S., signing an agreement with sPower to add 315 MW of electricity via two solar projects in Virginia.

This raises the computer behemoth’s total renewable energy portfolio to 1.2GW.

In a May 2016, announcement from the company’s President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith,  Microsoft announced that it would be “moving beyond datacenters that are already 100 percent carbon neutral to also having those datacenters rely on a larger percentage of wind, solar and hydropower electricity over time. Today roughly 44 percent of the electricity used by our datacenters comes from these sources. Our goal is to pass the 50 percent milestone by the end of 2018, top 60 percent early in the next decade, and then to keep improving from there.”

The new agreement with sPower puts Microsoft on track to meet these goals.

Microsoft one of the RE100 leaders in renewable energy

If RE100 were a country, it would be the 24th biggest in the world in terms of electricity use

In 2015 the tech giant joined RE100, a global corporate leadership initiative by The Climate Group in partnership with CDP, now bringing together 130 ambitious companies committed to sourcing entirely renewable power. 

Sam Kimmins, Head of RE100, The Climate Group said: “Huge congratulations to Microsoft on a great achievement. This is powerful leadership from a RE100 pioneer – bringing new solar capacity onto the grid will both benefit their business strategy and accelerate a market shift to renewables.”

Take a look at RE100’s January Report “APPROACHING A TIPPING POINT: how corporate users are redefining global electricity markets for a look into the progress that is being made through Power Purchase Agreements where corporations buy power contracts from renewable energy sources like sPower.

Part of Microsoft’s commitment is also to local renewable energy suppliers for its data centres around the world. Last November it agreed to buy 100% of the energy from a 180MW wind farm in Europe to runs its Azure cloud service in Amsterdam, and a similar solar agreement was made in Singapore, in February, the largest solar in agreement in the city-state’s history. 

Speaking about the new agreement in Virgina, Mr. Smith said “This project means more than just gigawatts, because our commitment is broader than transforming our own operations; it’s also about helping others access more renewable energy.”

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