Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Will Microsoft Follow Apple and Google's Lead on Iowa Wind Energy?

Business
Will Microsoft Follow Apple and Google's Lead on Iowa Wind Energy?

As the movement to power the Internet (and the rest of the world) with renewable energy grows, some technology companies are responding in big ways: Apple launched an Earth Day campaign yesterday highlighting how it is powering its data centers with 100-percent renewable energy.

Not to be outdone, Google announced today that it is partnering with its local utility in Iowa, Warren Buffett’s MidAmerican Energy, to supply the internet giant with up to 407 MW of Iowa’s famous wind energy, providing its data center there with well over 100-percent renewable energy too.

Google has now contracted for over 1 gigawatt of renewable energy to power its data centers: a stunning number, enough to power over 800,000 US homes.

Facebook, which like Google and Apple has committed to a goal of powering its platform with 100 percent renewable energy, also made an agreement with MidAmerican to purchase wind energy from a new wind farm to power its Iowa data center with a renewable resource as well.

Microsoft also has Iowa data centers, and it’s also growing rapidly there and everywhere. The company announced on Friday that it is doubling its investment in Iowa, spending over $1 billion on a new facility near Des Moines to power its growing cloud computing operation. But unlike Apple, Facebook and Google, Microsoft has not committed to powering its corner of the internet with renewable energy, both in Iowa and more broadly.

Microsoft is doubling its investment in Iowa facilities, but why doesn't that include making use of the state's wind resources?
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

According to Clicking Clean, the report Greenpeace released earlier this month, Microsoft has thus far relied heavily on buying Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) and carbon offsets, creating the appearance on paper of being clean but not altering Microsoft’s status quo supply of dirty electricity.

Iowa provides a perfect data point: While wind energy is booming in the state, accounting for a nation-leading 25 percent of Iowa’s electricity in 2012, MidAmerican is still powering its grid with a mix of mostly dirty energy sources like coal and gas, so if Microsoft wants to use 100-percent wind energy to power its data centers there, it will have to get pro-active, as Facebook and Google have done.

Until Microsoft takes similar action, its new facility risks increasing the demand for coal and gas, despite the abundance of clean, cheap wind energy blowing around it every day. Microsoft knows how to buy wind energy; the company signed to sign a long-term purchase agreement for wind power near its Texas data center last year, providing a great roadmap that it could follow in Iowa.

Is Microsoft ready to join major clean energy players like Apple, Facebook and Google, and put its money where its mouth is when it comes to building a greener cloud and internet?

Or will it remain more talk than action? The answer may be blowing in Iowa’s wind.

——–

YOU ALSO MIGHT LIKE

Wind Energy’s Rise: The Numbers Behind a Milestone-Setting Year

——–

Milkyway from Segara Anak - Rinjani Mountain. Abdul Azis / Moment / Getty Images

By Dirk Lorenzen

2021 begins as a year of Mars. Although our red planetary neighbor isn't as prominent as it was last autumn, it is still noticeable with its characteristic reddish color in the evening sky until the end of April. In early March, Mars shines close to the star cluster Pleiades in the constellation Taurus.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

By Michael Svoboda, Ph.D.

Despite a journey to this moment even more treacherous than expected, Americans now have a fresh opportunity to act, decisively, on climate change.

The authors of the many new books released in just the past few months (or scheduled to be published soon) seem to have anticipated this pivotal moment.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Marsh Creek in north-central California is the site of restoration project that will increase residents' access to their river. Amy Merrill

By Katy Neusteter

The Biden-Harris transition team identified COVID-19, economic recovery, racial equity and climate change as its top priorities. Rivers are the through-line linking all of them. The fact is, healthy rivers can no longer be separated into the "nice-to-have" column of environmental progress. Rivers and streams provide more than 60 percent of our drinking water — and a clear path toward public health, a strong economy, a more just society and greater resilience to the impacts of the climate crisis.

Read More Show Less
A Brood X cicada in 2004. Pmjacoby / CC BY-SA 3.0

Fifteen states are in for an unusually noisy spring.

Read More Show Less
A creative depiction of bigfoot in a forest. Nisian Hughes / Stone / Getty Images

Deep in the woods, a hairy, ape-like man is said to be living a quiet and secluded life. While some deny the creature's existence, others spend their lives trying to prove it.

Read More Show Less