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Photos: Microsoft goes solar

Company commemorates Earth Day by flipping the switch on a solar electric system for its Silicon Valley campus.
By Bill Detwiler, Contributor
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1 of 4 Bill Detwiler/ZDNET

Microsoft's Silicon Valley campus

At a small gathering Friday afternoon at Microsoft's Silicon Valley campus in Mountain View, the company commemorated Earth Day by flipping the switch on its new solar electric system.

Microsoft said the system, which with 2,288 solar panels on four building rooftops generates about 480 kilowatts at peak capacity, is the largest of its kind in Silicon Valley. It's also the first such effort from Microsoft on any of its worldwide campuses.

"Microsoft is committed to being a responsible environmental citizen locally and globally," said John Matheny, Microsoft's Silicon Valley site leader. "Implementing the latest practices and technologies to protect the environment is good for the community and good for our business."

Attendees were treated to free scoops of Ben & Jerry's ice cream.

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Microsoft's John Matheny

Matheny (right), joined by Mountain View City Council member Greg Perry (second from right), gets set to turn on the software giant's solar panel system.

Solar panels were installed on four of the five buildings on the campus, a system that Microsoft calls the largest of its kind in the area. The solar electric system, composed of 2,288 tiles dispersed on the roofs of the four buildings, generates 480 kilowatts at peak capacity, or roughly 15 percent of the total daily power demand. That's enough energy to power 500 homes.

"It's not about the money. It's the right thing to do," said Matheny.

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Solar statistics

Statistics illustrate the benefits of Microsoft's new solar panel system, which is from Berkeley company called PowerLight. The system consists of solar panels that convert sunlight into electricity, sparing the environment emissions like carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide that contribute to smog, acid rain and global warming. Microsoft expects the system to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 4,000 tons over 30 years.

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Campus view

The solar panels are designed to deliver energy from the sun during peak summer months and offset reliance on the local energy grid. The solar panel system covers 31,000 square feet.

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