Google and Microsoft sign PPAs for renewable energy access • The Register

Microsoft and Google have both unveiled new agreements for access to renewable energy sources for their datacenters as part of attempts to lower the carbon footprint of their IT operations.

Search giant Google said it has signed a power purchase agreement (PPA) with Engie, a French utility company, for 100MW of energy generated by the Moray West offshore wind farm in Scotland to power its UK operations.

Meanwhile, Microsoft announced its own PPAs in Ireland that cover more than 900MW of new renewable electricity capacity to supply power for its datacenters located there.

Microsoft did not disclose the suppliers for its renewable energy agreements, but other sources have identified Norwegian energy company Statkraft and Ireland’s Energia Group as two that are involved, with the energy coming from a mix of wind and solar projects.

The Redmond giant said that by 2025, it expects that its datacenters located in Ireland will be running entirely from renewable energy from new projects supported by PPAs such as these.

Google likewise claimed that its new agreements will bring the company closer to its goal of running entirely on carbon-free energy sources by 2030, across its UK offices and cloud regions. It said that with the latest PPA signed with Engie, it already expects to be at or near 90 percent carbon-free by 2025.

In a statement, Google EMEA President Matt Brittin said that people across the UK and Europe are increasingly worried about climate change and energy security.

“We share that concern and believe technology is an important part of the solution – both by reducing our own emissions, and by helping others to reduce theirs.”

The move follows earlier agreements by both companies to buy up renewable energy in the US. Google signed a deal with SoftBank subsidiary SB Energy for 900MW of solar power for a datacenter in Texas, while Microsoft inked a 20-year agreement with AES Corporation earlier this year to provide renewable energy to its datacenters in California from a portfolio of 110MW solar and 55MW four-hour storage projects.

However, while these projects have laudable aims, they will not always offset the carbon footprint of such megacorps, especially if they are expanding faster than they are buying up carbon credits or investing in renewable energy.

For example, in its annual sustainability report for 2021, Microsoft conceded that while it had reduced its own CO2 emissions by about 17 percent year-on-year, its carbon footprint had actually expanded because of significant growth during the same period.

Microsoft said that while it has expanded its datacenters to meet customer demand, it has also doubled down on its commitments to reducing carbon consumption and helping solve the larger issues of climate change. ®

By Janet J

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