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 data centers as part of attempts to reduce the carbon footprint of their IT operations.

Search giant Google announced it has signed a power purchase agreement (PPA) with Engie, a French utility, 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, covering more than 900 MW of new renewable power capacity to power data centers located there.

Microsoft has not disclosed the suppliers for its renewable energy deals, but other sources have identified Norwegian energy company Statkraft and Irish Energia Group as two involved, with the power coming from a mix of wind and solar projects.

The Redmond giant said that by 2025 it expects its data centers in Ireland to be fully powered by renewable energy from new projects backed by PPAs like these.

Google also claimed that its new agreements will bring the company closer to its goal of operating entirely on zero-carbon energy sources in all UK offices and cloud regions by 2030. 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 people across the UK and Europe are increasingly concerned about climate change and energy security.

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

The move follows previous agreements by both companies to buy out renewable energy in the US. Google signed a deal with SoftBank subsidiary SB Energy for 900 MW of solar power for a data center in Texas, while Microsoft earlier this year signed a 20-year deal with AES Corporation to power its California data centers from a portfolio of 110 MW of solar power with renewable energy to power 55 MW 4-hour storage projects.

While these projects have laudable goals, they won’t always offset the carbon footprint of such megacorps, especially if they’re expanding faster than they’re buying up carbon credits or investing in renewable energy.

For example, Microsoft acknowledged in its 2021 annual sustainability report that it had reduced its own carbon footprint2 emissions by about 17 percent year-on-year, its carbon footprint had actually increased due to significant growth over the same period.

Microsoft said that while it has expanded its data centers to meet customer demand, it has also doubled down on its commitments to reduce carbon footprint and address the bigger problems of climate change. ® Google and Microsoft sign PPAs for renewable energy access • The Register

Rick Schindler

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