Microsoft to power Texas data centre via wind – Greenpeace welcomes move

4 Nov 2013

By 2015, Microsoft’s San Antonio, Texas, data centre could be be powered by electricity produced by a new wind-farm project called Keechi in Texas that RES Americas will develop. Greenpeace has welcomed the tech giant’s move.

Microsoft revealed that it would be purchasing the entire electricity output that will be generated by the Keechi wind farm once it goes live in 2015.

In early 2014, RES Americas is to start the build of the 110 megawatt (MW) Keechi wind farm, which will be poised 70 miles northwest of Ft. Worth in Texas, near the town of Jacksboro.

The wind farm will include 55 wind turbines, which will be manufactured by Vestas, largely in Colorado, Microsoft confirmed.

Microsoft confirmed that it has committed to a 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA) with RES Americas to buy 100pc of the electricity generated from the Keechi Wind Farm Project.

The tech giant will then leverage the electricity to feed into the same electrical grid that already powers Microsoft’s data centre in San Antonio.

The goal is that this wind farm will begin delivering greener electricity in 2015.

“We have a long-standing ambition to move in the direction of sourcing more clean energy as a company, so over the last few years we’ve increasingly purchased something called RECs – renewable energy credits … and so this is an opportunity to go to the next stage and invest directly in green energy,” said
Rob Bernard, Microsoft’s chief environmental strategist, on the company’s news blog.

Seemingly, Microsoft now has more than 2.3bn kWh globally of such RES credits.

Greenpeace reaction

Gary Cook, a senior IT analyst at Greenpeace, has welcomed the Microsoft announcement.

In a statement, he had this to say:

“Microsoft’s wind energy purchase today is worth celebrating, as it shows that the company is refusing to cede leadership in the clean energy race to competitors like Google and Apple.

Cook went to on to refer to companies like the aforementioned Google and Apple, as well as Rackspace, Salesforce and Box.

He said that each of these companies has all committed to a goal of powering their data centres with “100pc renewable electricity”.

“Microsoft should do the same, so that users of services like Bing, Office 365 and Azure can know with certainty that today’s good news is the sign of much more to come,” added Cook.

‘Keechi is a moment in our journey’ – Microsoft claims

As for Microsoft’s own take on the Keechi announcement, in the same blog, Bernard suggested that Keechi is a “moment” in Microsoft’s journey.

This, according to Microsoft, includes an increased focus and scaling up in the direction the sustainable-energy strategy the company has been pursuing over the past few years.

Apparently, it takes one megawatt (MW) of energy to power 500 Texas homes on the same electrical grid as Microsoft’s San Antonio data centre.

Server room interior in a data centre image via Shutterstock

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic