Microsoft and General Electric (GE) have signed an agreement on a new wind project in Ireland which will see 37 megawatts of clean energy added to the Irish grid.
This latest investment supports Microsoft’s commitment to building a responsible Cloud for Global good in the EU and Ireland, allowing more and more people to benefit from investments in technology.
The 15-year power purchase agreement (PPA) involves Microsoft purchasing 100 percent of the wind energy from the Tullahennel wind farm in County Kerry, making the company one of the first multinational technology companies to support the construction of a new wind energy project in the country.
“Microsoft is proud to be deepening our long history of investment and partnership in Ireland with this agreement,” said Christian Belady, General Manager, Datacenter Strategy at Microsoft.
“Our investment will help bring new, clean energy to the Irish grid, and contains innovative elements that have the potential to grow the capacity, reliability and capability of the grid to incorporate new clean power sources like wind energy. And that is good for the environment, for Ireland and for our company.”
This agreement continues Microsoft’s history of supporting sustainability projects in Ireland, including a new forestry initiative announced earlier this year, and investments in energy efficiency measures and technologies that have greatly reduced its energy and water footprint.
Investing in the future
In addition to producing energy, the project will produce valuable new insights about how renewable energy can be stored – each turbine will incorporate an innovative new storage battery.
In the first deployment of integrated battery technology in Europe, Microsoft and GE will test how the batteries can be used to capture and store excess wind energy, before feeding it back to the grid as needed.
This has the potential to provide more predictable power to an increasingly green Irish grid, by smoothing out peaks and valleys in wind production. This in turn better enables intermittent clean power sources like wind energy to be added to the Irish grid.
The wind farm will also integrate GE’s Digital Wind farm technology, which makes renewable energy outputs even more reliable. Digital models will ensure that the energy generation supplied can meet demand forecasted and reduce intermittency concerns.
Andres Isaza, Chief Commercial Officer of GE Renewable Energy said, “Our agreement with Microsoft paves the road not only for more clean energy in Ireland, but more collaboration on PPAs enabled by new power players and wind turbine manufacturers around the globe. Wind is now one of the most competitive sources of electricity on the market today and we’re excited to be partnering with Microsoft, a pioneer that is helping the industry grow and realize the advantages of scale.”
Microsoft is also acquiring an Irish energy supply license from GE, which will benefit both Microsoft and the Irish power grid, as it allows the company the flexibility to easily grow and invest in renewable energy in Ireland over time.
Dublin-based energy trading company ElectroRoute will act as trading service provider for the supply company.
“ElectroRoute is delighted to work with Microsoft and GE to structure and manage the energy trading activities for the supply company,” said Ronan Doherty, chief executive at ElectroRoute. “The wind energy sector is particularly vibrant in Ireland at the moment, and we are seeing the emergence of an array of new structures and procurement approaches, which I feel will persist and grow into the future.”
Once operational, the new wind project will bring Microsoft’s total global direct procurement in renewable energy projects to almost 600 megawatts. In 2016, Microsoft set clean energy commitments to power its datacenters and bring new renewable energy sources online in the communities in which it operates.