Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

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

Much of Eastern Oklahoma, including most of Tulsa, remains an Indian reservation, the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday. JustTulsa / CC BY 2.0

Much of Eastern Oklahoma, including most of Tulsa, remains an Indian reservation, the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday.

Read More Show Less
The Firefly Watch project is among the options for aspiring citizen scientists to join. Mike Lewinski / Wikimedia Commons / CC by 2.0

By Tiffany Means

Summer and fall are great seasons to enjoy the outdoors. But if you're already spending extra time outside because of the COVID-19 pandemic, you may be out of ideas on how to make fresh-air activities feel special. Here are a few suggestions to keep both adults and children entertained and educated in the months ahead, many of which can be done from the comfort of one's home or backyard.

Read More Show Less
People sit at the bar of a restaurant in Austin, Texas, on June 26, 2020. Texas Governor Greg Abbott ordered bars to be closed by noon on June 26 and for restaurants to be reduced to 50% occupancy. Coronavirus cases in Texas spiked after being one of the first states to begin reopening. SERGIO FLORES / AFP via Getty Images

The coronavirus may linger in the air in crowded indoor spaces, spreading from one person to the next, the World Health Organization acknowledged on Thursday, as The New York Times reported. The announcement came just days after 239 scientists wrote a letter urging the WHO to consider that the novel coronavirus is lingering in indoor spaces and infecting people, as EcoWatch reported.

Read More Show Less
A never-before-documented frog species has been discovered in the Peruvian highlands and named Phrynopus remotum. Germán Chávez

By Angela Nicoletti

The eastern slopes of the Andes Mountains in central Perú are among the most remote places in the world.

Read More Show Less
Left: Lemurs in Madagascar on March 30, 2017. Mathias Appel / Flickr. Right: A North Atlantic right whale mother and calf. National Marine Fisheries Service

A new analysis by scientists at the Swiss-based International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) found that lemurs and the North Atlantic right whale are on the brink of extinction.

Read More Show Less
Nobody knows exactly how much vitamin D a person actually needs. However, vitamin D is becoming increasingly popular. Colin Dunn / Flickr / CC by 2.0

By Julia Vergin

It is undisputed that vitamin D plays a role everywhere in the body and performs important functions. A severe vitamin D deficiency, which can occur at a level of 12 nanograms per milliliter of blood or less, leads to severe and painful bone deformations known as rickets in infants and young children and osteomalacia in adults. Unfortunately, this is where the scientific consensus ends.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Data from a scientist measuring macroalgal communities in rocky shores in the Argentinean Patagonia would be added to the new system. Patricia Miloslavich / University of Delaware

Ocean scientists have been busy creating a global network to understand and measure changes in ocean life. The system will aggregate data from the oceans, climate and human activity to better inform sustainable marine management practices.

EcoWatch sat down with some of the scientists spearheading the collaboration to learn more.

Read More Show Less