Quantcast

Tech Giant Microsoft Signs Largest Corporate Solar Agreement in the U.S.

Renewable Energy

By Katrine Tilgaard Petersen

Microsoft has announced the single largest corporate purchase of solar power ever seen in the U.S., signing an agreement with sPower to add 315 MW of electricity via two solar projects in Virginia.

Microsoft has been powered by 100 percent renewable electricity since 2014. In 2015, the tech giant joined RE100, a global corporate leadership initiative by The Climate Group in partnership with CDP, now bringing together 130 ambitious companies committed to sourcing entirely renewable power.


In 2016, Microsoft set further ambitious targets to source clean electricity for its data centers directly from local sources of energy; 50 percent by the end of 2018 and 60 percent by early 2020.

Raising the company's total renewable energy portfolio to 1.2GW, the new agreement with sPower puts Microsoft firmly on track to meet these goals, whilst simultaneously supporting the growth of the solar industry in Virginia.

"Huge congratulations to Microsoft on a great achievement. This is powerful leadership from a RE100 pioneer—bringing new solar capacity onto the grid will both benefit their business strategy and accelerate a market shift to renewables," said Sam Kimmins, head of RE100.

He added, "This project is a clear illustration of how supportive policy environments enable corporate renewable electricity off-takers to invest at scale, driving competitiveness and speeding up the transition to a zero emissions economy."

Harnessing the Power of the Sun

When fully operational, the Pleinmont I and II projects will consist of more than 750,000 solar panels spread across more than 2,000 acres, producing approximately 715,00 MWh per year. They are part of a larger 500 MW solar project, the biggest solar development in Virginia.

"This project means more than just gigawatts, because our commitment is broader than transforming our own operations; it's also about helping others access more renewable energy," said Brad Smith, president of Microsoft.

As costs of wind and solar power fall rapidly and approach grid parity, businesses are increasingly seeing the benefits of investing in renewable electricity to source both their own energy needs and facilitate more clean power coming onto the grid.

A recent RE100 Progress and Insights Report reveals the rise of corporate power purchase agreements (PPAs) as a method for such procurement, with the use of PPAs increasing fourfold amongst RE100 members in one year.

Governments and Businesses Working Together

Recent research for the RE100 initiative shows the greatest increase in PPAs is seen in regions where legislative frameworks are most favorable, notably the U.S., Mexico, the UK, Ireland and the Netherlands.

With Virginia being a signatory of the Under2 Coalition, a global network of sub-national governments committed to climate action for which The Climate Group acts as secretariat, the state has expanded significant efforts to cut emissions and drive clean energy investment. Working with Microsoft to facilitate new solar capacity entering onto the grid is part of this process.

"When companies like Microsoft invest in Virginia solar, they opt for clean and reliable energy as well as new jobs in the energy economy we are working hard to build," said Gov. Ralph Northam.

"I am proud that Microsoft is expanding its commitment to solar energy in Virginia, and I look forward to building upon this victory for clean energy and the jobs that come with it."

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Oil palm plantations in northeastern Borneo, state of Sabah, Malaysia. Recently planted oil palms can be seen in the bright green grassy areas and a tiny bit of natural rainforest still struggles for survival farther away. Vaara / E+ / Getty Images

Palm Oil importers in Europe will not be able to meet their self-imposed goal of only selling palm oil that is certified deforestation-free, according to a new analysis produced by the Palm Oil Transparency Coalition, as Bloomberg reported.

Read More Show Less
Scientists found the most melting near Mould Bay on Prince Patrick Island, NWT, Canada. University of Alaska Fairbanks Permafrost Laboratory

The Canadian Arctic is raising alarm bells for climate scientists. The permafrost there is thawing 70 years earlier than expected, a research team discovered, according to Reuters. It is the latest indication that the global climate crisis is ramping up faster than expected.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Pixabay

By Jillian Kubala, MS, RD

Cherries are one of the most beloved fruits, and for good reason.

Read More Show Less
A fuel truck carries fuel into a fracking site past the warning signs Jan. 27, 2016 near Stillwater, Oklahoma. J Pat Carter / Getty Images

By Jessica Corbett

For more than three decades, the U.S. government has mismanaged toxic oil and gas waste containing carcinogens, heavy metals and radioactive materials, according to a new Earthworks report — and with the country on track to continue drilling and fracking for fossil fuels, the advocacy group warns of growing threats to the planet and public health.

Read More Show Less
European Union blue and gold flags flying at the European Commission building in Brussels, Belgium. 35007/ iStock / Getty Images Plus

Newly adopted guidelines set forth by the European Commission Tuesday aim to tackle climate change by way of the financial sector. The move comes to bolster the success of the Sustainable Action Plan published last year to reorient capital flows toward sustainable investment and manage financial risks from climate change, environmental degradation and social issues.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivering remarks to supporters at a Liberal Climate Action Rally in Toronto, Ontario on March 4. Arindam Shivaani / NurPhoto / Getty Images

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Tuesday that his government would once again approve the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline, which would triple the amount of oil transported from Alberta's tar sands to the coast of British Columbia (BC).

Read More Show Less
An exhausted polar bear wanders the streets of Norilsk, a Siberian city hundreds of miles from its natural habitat. IRINA YARINSKAYA / AFP / Getty Images

An exhausted, starving polar bear has been spotted wandering around the Siberian city of Norilsk, Reuters reported Tuesday. It is the first time a polar bear has entered the city in more than 40 years.

Read More Show Less
Bumblebees flying and pollinating a creeping thyme flower. emeliemaria / iStock / Getty Images

It pays to pollinate in Minnesota.

Read More Show Less