Salesforce has announced that they have signed a 12 year virtual power purchase agreement with an unidentified wind farm project located in West Virginia to deliver 40 MW of power, which is more than the total amount Salesforce currently uses in their leased data center space. The announcement ties in with Salesforces' public goal of eventually powering 100 percent of their operation on renewable energy.
Salesforce doesn't own any data centers. Like many large cloud businesses, it leases data center space from commercial data center operators rather than building its own facilities. And like every other data center user and operator that is signing power purchase agreements with wind or solar farms for renewable power, it isn't using the new capacity to directly power any facility; it will putting the wind power into the grid to offset any non-renewable resources used by its commercial power provider.
Along with a commitment to renewable energy, Salesforce also has committed to being completely carbon neutral by 2050. The agreement with the wind farm, which is currently under construction and expected to be online in 2016, has Salesforce paying a fixed rate for renewable energy credits. The wind farm operator will sell the power to commercial users on the wholesale market.
Due to the nature of the agreement, Salesforce could be on the hook for additional costs if the purchase price for the power is lower than expected, in which case they will have to make up the difference between the fixed price and the actual sale price. Conversely, should prices go up, Salesforce could possibly profit from the sale of the wholesale power if it brings in more than the fixed price. The purchased power generated under the agreement is expected to be 125,000 MW/h annually.