Building for the future: Microsoft’s new Swedish datacentres have sustainability firmly in mind


Viewed as a highly sustainable country, Sweden has made strong commitments to reduce environmental impact and the government is pursuing a progressive Fossil Free Sweden initiative. Microsoft is similarly committed to sustainability, and with the development of new world-class datacentres in Sweden, intends to create some of their most advanced and sustainable to date based on their design, power from 100 percent renewable energy sources, and plans for zero-waste operations.

Microsoft has operated as a carbon neutral company since 2012 and is continuously increasing the amount of energy the company uses from renewable sources – wind, solar, and hydropower. Earlier this year, Microsoft President Brad Smith confirmed that, by the end of this year, the company will achieve its target of powering its datacentres with 60 percent renewable energy, and will aim to reach 70 percent renewable energy by 2023, on the path to 100 percent.

“We intend for our datacentres in Sweden to be among the most sustainably designed and operated in the world with the ultimate ambition of achieving zero-carbon operations. The datacentre design we’re developing will further Microsoft’s ongoing commitment to transition to a sustainable, low-carbon future,” said Noelle Walsh, CVP, Cloud Operations & Innovation, Microsoft Corp.

Microsoft will collaborate with Vattenfall, one of Europe’s largest producers and retailers of electricity and heat with support from its Node Pole team, on the sourcing and supply of renewable energy for the future datacentres. The two companies will also collaborate to develop solutions to reduce the carbon footprint of the datacentres and construct new power infrastructure to provide stable power for the facilities and the surrounding areas in Sweden in the coming years. Over time, the new power infrastructure will help further reduce the carbon footprint of the datacentres.

Microsoft and Vattenfall previously announced the largest wind energy deal in the Netherlands in 2017. Microsoft purchased 100 percent of the wind energy generated from a 180-megawatt wind farm that is adjacent to its local datacentre operations in the Netherlands. The wind farm is being constructed and operated by Vattenfall in the Wieringermeer Polder, north of Amsterdam.

“Vattenfall is fully committed to help our customers make fossil free living possible within one generation, so this partnership fits very well with our overall strategy. In collaboration with Microsoft, Vattenfall will develop new energy infrastructure to support this datacentre development in Sweden to ensure ample and reliable power for the facilities and improved reliability to the region,” said Andreas Regnell, Senior Vice President, Strategic Development, Vattenfall. “We will support Microsoft on the sourcing and supply of renewable energy for the future datacentres and help provide innovative solutions to reduce the carbon footprint of the datacentres. Vattenfall Distribution as the regional network owner will construct and build the distribution infrastructure required to connect the large-scale facilities. Over time, the new infrastructure will help further reduce the carbon footprint of the datacentres, while at the same time reinforce an already strong electricity grid in Gävle and Sandviken to the benefit of the people who live there.”

Growing demand for the cloud

The proposed Microsoft datacentres in Sweden are in anticipation of future needs for cloud and internet services as demand in Europe continues to grow. In its recent Q3 2019 earnings report, Microsoft shared that demand for its cloud offerings drove commercial cloud revenue to $9.6 billion in its most recent quarter, up 41 percent year-over-year.

The datacentres in Sweden will add to Microsoft’s existing European datacentre footprint, joining the ranks of its other planned datacentres in Norway and Switzerland, and available datacentres in Austria, France, Finland, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom.

Microsoft continues to focus on research and development for even greater efficiency and increased renewable energy across its global infrastructure. As part of this process, it also plans to launch a new data-driven circular cloud initiative using the Internet of Things (IoT), blockchain and artificial intelligence (AI) to monitor performance and streamline the reuse, resale and recycling of datacentre assets, including servers. With other innovations such as Project Natick, the world’s first underwater datacentre, and the award-winning Advanced Energy Lab, Microsoft continues to push the boundaries of datacenter innovation and sustainability for both new and existing projects.

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