Microsoft signs 237 MW wind deal in Wyoming
Microsoft has signed two agreements that call for the purchase of 237 MW of wind power.
The software company says the agreements will ensure that its datacenter in Cheyenne, Wyo., will be entirely powered by clean energy.
The wind power will come from two sources: the 59-MW Happy Jack and Silver Sage wind farms in Wyoming and a 178-MW wind project in Kansas.
Corporations last year became the biggest purchasers of wind power, using corporate power purchase agreements to move them closer to their green energy targets. At least 75% of wind power purchase agreements were signed with corporate buyers instead of utilities in the fourth quarter last year.
Microsoft says that about 44% of the power used by its data centers comes from wind, solar and hydropower sources. And the company has a target of using green power to supply 50% of the power for its datacenters by 2018 and 60% by early next decade. Ultimately, the company says, it wants to power its datacenters entirely with green power.
But often corporate PPAs are not as simple as offtake agreements signed between a utility and a renewable energy developer. Microsoft’s recent deal, signed with Black Hills Energy and Allianz Risk Transfer, gives Black Hills the ability to draw from Microsoft's backup generators that would run on natural gas instead of diesel.
The agreement enables Black Hills to avoid having to build a generating plant to serve Microsoft’s larger than expected data center, and it make more efficient use of Microsoft’s backup generators, which otherwise would be idle much of the time.
“The utility told us they weren’t going to have enough power generation to support our growth plan, since the datacenter we had in Cheyenne is now much larger than originally planned,” Brian Janous, director of energy strategy at Microsoft, said. “They proposed building a new power plant. But I told them, we’re effectively building power plants behind our meter, in the form of our backup generation, which we need to support our mission critical operations. Why build two plants when you could build one?”
Follow Peter Maloney on Twitter