Google, Microsoft purchase more renewable energy for datacenters


Microsoft and Google have both signed new agreements for using more renewable energy sources for their datacenters as part of efforts to lower their IT operations’ carbon footprint.

Search giant Google unveiled its power purchase agreement (PPA) signed with Engie, a French utility company, for 100 MW of energy generated by the Moray West offshore wind farm in Scotland to power its operations in the U.K.

Meanwhile, Microsoft announced its own PPAs in Ireland that supply more than 900 MW of new renewable electricity for its datacenters located there.

Microsoft did not disclose the suppliers for its renewable energy agreements, but other sources have identified Statkraft, a Norwegian energy company, and Ireland's Energia Group as two that are involved, with the energy coming from a mix of wind and solar projects.

The Redmond giant said that by 2025, it expects that its datacenters located in Ireland will be running entirely from renewable energy from new projects supported by PPAs such as these.

Google also claimed that its new agreements will bring the company closer to its goal of running its UK offices and cloud regions entirely on carbon-free energy sources by 2030. It said that with the latest PPA signed with Engie, it already expects to be at or near 90 percent carbon-free by 2025.

The move follows earlier agreements by both companies to buy renewable energy in the U.S.

Google signed a deal with SoftBank subsidiary SB Energy for 900 MW of solar energy to power a datacenter in Texas, while Microsoft entered into a 20-year agreement with AES Corporation earlier this year to provide renewable energy to its datacenters in California from 110 MW solar and 55 MW four-hour storage projects.

However, while these projects have laudable aims, they will not always offset the carbon footprint of such megacorps, especially if they are expanding faster than they are purchasing carbon credits or investing in renewable energy.

For example, Microsoft conceded in its annual sustainability report for 2021 that while it had reduced its own CO2 emissions by about 17% year-on-year, its carbon footprint had in fact expanded due to significant growth during the same period.

In addition to expanding its datacenters to meet customer demand, Microsoft has also doubled down on its commitments to reducing carbon consumption and contributing to solutions to climate change.

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