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Microsoft Is Becoming a Renewable Energy Provider in Ireland

October 10, 2017, 9:55 AM UTC

Microsoft is to buy all of the energy produced by a General Electric wind farm in Ireland, the companies have announced.

The deal is notable not only because it gives Microsoft (MSFT) sustainable power for its cloud operations in Ireland—the base for the company’s European operations—but because of the nature of the equipment itself, and the implications thereof.

According to Microsoft and GE (GE), this will be Europe’s first wind energy deployment where batteries are integrated into the turbines themselves. The companies will test using these batteries for storing energy and releasing it into the grid when it is needed.

This essentially means Microsoft is getting into the sale of power, not just consumption—it’s buying an Irish energy supply license from GE, and has brought in Dublin-based energy trading company ElectroRoute to provide trading services. The Tullahennel facility, in County Kerry, will provide 37 megawatts of power.

“Our commitment 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. This will make it easier to incorporate new clean power sources like wind energy, and that is good for the environment, for Ireland and for our company,” said Microsoft datacenter strategy general manager Christian Belady in a statement.

Microsoft employs around 1,800 people in Ireland, where GE also employs over 1,500 staff.

Technology giants such as Amazon, Google, Apple, and Microsoft are big exponents of sustainable energy, partly for public relations purposes, but also because their data centers use so much power and countries have sustainable energy targets to reach. A recent analysis suggested 15% of Ireland’s total electricity demand will come from data centers by 2026.