Microsoft aims to power Chicago datacenter with wind power

The software giant buys 175 megawatts of wind energy for its Chicago datacenter. Here's a look at what other cloud players are doing.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

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.



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