Microsoft moves toward greener internet with wind energy purchase

by David Pomerantz

July 15, 2014

Wind turbines spin on a cloudy day near Fithian. They are part of the 214 MW Invenergy California Ridge wind project in Vermilion and Champaign counties that came online in 2012 to supply energy to the Tennessee Valley Authority. The project comprises 134 turbines.

© Greenpeace / Robert Meyers

The race to build a green internet is in full swing, with Microsoftannouncing todaythat it is purchasing 175 MW of wind energy in Illinois to power its data center operations there.

Electricity generated by that wind farm will power Microsofts data center in Chicago, one of the facilities that runs services like Office 365, Xbox Live, Bing, and Azure, Microsofts cloud computing offering.

This is the second time Microsoft has turned to wind energy to power its data centers. It announced its first such power purchase agreementlast year for 110 MWof wind energy to power its Texas data center.

As Greenpeace commentedwhen Microsoft made its Texas wind deal, our praise of Microsofts procurement of wind energy in Illinois comes with a caveat: unlike its competitors Google and Rackspace, Microsoft still has not yet committed to power all 100% of its operations with renewable energy.

A closer look at some of Microsofts other data centers shows why the 100% commitment is so important for the company. Microsoft has announced recent expansions inVirginia and Iowa, where polluting forms of energy like coal, gas and nuclear are powering its operations and where Microsoft has so far done nothing to procure cleaner electricity. In Iowa, that stands in sharp contrast to Facebook and Google, both of which are powering their Iowa data centers with 100% wind energy.

But even if it has much more work to do, Microsoft is increasingly making efforts to power its corner of the internet with renewable energy; the same cant be said of Amazon Web Services. Microsofts progress, especially when taken alongside the commitments by Amazons other biggest cloud competitors, Rackspace and Google, highlight the failure by Amazon Web Services to reach even the starting line in the race to build a clean cloud and green internet.

As other companies move to embrace solar and wind, AWS risks losing business from customers that are beginning to expect their cloud to be powered by renewable energy.

Tell Amazon and other internet companies that you want to click clean, and ask them to power the internet with renewable energy now.

David Pomerantz

By David Pomerantz

David Pomerantz is a former Senior Climate and Energy Campaigner for Greenpeace USA, based in San Francisco. He helps lead Greenpeace's campaign for an economy powered by 100% renewable energy.

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