Microsoft aims to power Chicago datacenter with wind power

Microsoft aims to power Chicago datacenter with wind power

Summary: The software giant buys 175 megawatts of wind energy for its Chicago datacenter. Here's a look at what other cloud players are doing.


Microsoft said it will buy 175 megawatts of wind energy from the Pilot Wind Project in Illinois in a 20-year pact. The purchase adds to the 110 megawatts of energy from the Keechi Wind Farm in Texas last year.

For Microsoft, the Pilot Wind Project energy purchase boils down to power its Chicago datacenter. Pilot Wind is operated by EDF Energy. Microsoft's purchase gives the Pilot Wind project a steady revenue stream and Microsoft gets to offset its carbon output.

As the hyperscale cloud computing game requires an ever-increasing number of energy hogging datacenters, big providers such as Microsoft, Amazon, Google and IBM are trying to buy renewable energy near their datacenters. Renewable energy is better for the environment, results in good public relations and, if costs come down enough, can boost margins and operating efficiency.

Microsoft's wind power purchase is just the latest deal from a major cloud provider. For instance, Google has signed seven contracts for 1040 MW of wind energy in Iowa, Oklahoma, Texas and Sweden.

In addition, cloud providers are also utilizing solar energy.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) doesn't tout its renewable energy purchase much, but does note that its Oregon region and AWS GovCloud region use 100 percent carbon-free power.

In recent reports, Greenpeace has urged the likes of Amazon, Microsoft and Apple to clean up their cloud operations by ditching coal-powered energy. Greenpeace has also graded cloud providers and has flunked AWS in some areas and handed out D grades to Microsoft. Google is ranked high and Greenpeace reckons Apple has improved over the years. IT grades overall are mixed.

Here's a look at two Greenpeace IT and cloud scorecards.



Topic: Cloud

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Not really

    These are just payoffs for PR purposes. It all comes off the same grid.
    Buster Friendly
  • Based on the scorecard

    Dell and Yahoo are the best players by far. Apple is mediocre and almost failing energy transparency so who knows if what they report is accurate. Amazon is just bad, they obviously don't care about green.
    Sean Foley
    • Why would they

      Why would they considering it's meaningless? If they pay up or not, it won't make a single bit of difference in the power grid.
      Buster Friendly
  • Good grief. We're in year 15 of global cooling

    We have record ice coverage in Antarctica, we have found multiple cases of data fraud and manipulation at NASA, East Anglia and the U.N. and we're STILL pretending that carbon dioxide is a deadly pollutant instead of an essential nutrient for all life on the planet?
    • In which case...

      ...utilizing wind power can't hurt; unless of course, your favorite political causes are funded by the petroleum and coal industries.
      John L. Ries
      • Failed

        Using an ad hominem is an automatic failure of the argument.
        Buster Friendly
        • Do you even know what the phrase means?

          Quoting from Wikipedia:

          "An ad hominem (Latin for "to the man" or "to the person"), short for argumentum ad hominem, is a general category of fallacies in which a claim or argument is rejected on the basis of some irrelevant fact about the author of or the person presenting the claim or argument."

          I refuted nothing, nor did I dismiss what he said on the basis of his very obvious political leanings (though I did allude to them). I did state that utilizing wind power is harmless (provided one doesn't classify less business for the fossil fuel industries as harm). If you can make a counter-argument, then by all means.
          John L. Ries
          • Really?

            Really? You can't see how you tried to refute the argument with a nonsensical "favorite political causes are funded by the petroleum and coal industries." Logic really should be a mandatory grade school class.
            Buster Friendly
          • It wasn't a refutation

            The comment may or may not have been appropriate, but I didn't even address the claim (I certainly made no effort to discredit it). The main point was that the use of wind power by MS and others harms nobody, except for possibly those with a vested interest in the continued sale and use of fossil fuels; which makes protests like Baggins' utterly ridiculous.

            And, in fact, I think debate on the issue is driven much more by politics than it is by science; and Baggins' political leanings are well known. And, I strongly suspect that partisan talk show hosts and think tankers follow the money to a large degree (money politics is rampant in the US, and political operatives are at least as prone to engaging in it as elected officials are).
            John L. Ries
          • I'm still amused

            By Adornoe's statement that Yahoo's abolition of telecommuting was a good thing in part because people would buy more gasoline.
            John L. Ries
  • I thought perhaps...

    ...that MS was going to build windmills in the Windy City, but I guess not. Would be interesting to know how the price of the power its buying compares to that available from conventional coal-fired plants.
    John L. Ries
  • Why

    Why is Apple singled out in the chart?
    • Source

      The source article the graph was pulled from was probably about apple.
  • Wind power in Chicago!

    What an appropriate place to start! Of course, Chicago's nickname did not come from the weather, but from the tendency of Chicagoans to talk a great deal. Of course, for THAT kind of wind, any state capital or Washington, DC would be a good place, except for the power being "seasonal."
    • It's only seasonal in state capitals

      Congress is full time; as are the legislatures of some of the larger states (such as California).
      John L. Ries
  • DIY

    I suppose corporate policy must now lead, since on the legislative level there is obstruction and deadlock when it comes to energy policy, infrastructure, and the public interest.
    Narn Ryan
  • Microsoft buying wind energy

    Makes sense - Elmer Fudd ran the joint on wind for many years.