Microsoft snaps up entire output of 110MW Texas wind farm

GE Wind turbines
CC BY 3.0 Flickr

From Apple's 20MW solar array to Google's ongoing investments in wind farms, the tech industry is becoming a disruptive force in the energy sector.

Now we can add Microsoft to the mix. Having long been an investor in Renewable Energy Credits, and having imposed an internal price on carbon, The Guardian reports that it is now taking a step toward some of its competitors—making a direct purchase agreement with the developer of a 110MW Texas wind farm:

Unlike Microsoft's earlier investments in clean energy, which were through the purchase of renewable energy credits, the Keechi windfarm would bring additional wind capacity into the Texas electricity supply chain. That would displace coal and natural gas, and help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

"We have been doing the renewable energy credits for a while," Bernard said. "But here we are catalysing a project from the ground up." He added: "Without our capital we know this plant would not have been built."

As I noted recently over at MNN, the trend for large companies to go all-out for renewables is making energy utilities decidedly nervous.

Much like the airlines' love of the business traveler, bulk sales to large energy users have been a traditional profit center for mainstream utilities. As those big users opt for green energy, it leaves fewer, less profitable consumers sharing the price burden for "brown energy" and its extensive and expensive infrastructure. This, in turn, means higher prices, which serves to make renewables and energy conservation ever more attractive.

Intriguingly, The Guardian article concludes by suggesting there are going to be other major environmental announcements to come from Microsoft in the weeks to come:

"The Keechi wind project power purchase agreement may be one of our largest milestones since implementing our carbon fee, but it will certainly not be our last," Bernard said.

Microsoft snaps up entire output of 110MW Texas wind farm
This isn't new ground for the industry, but it's new ground for Microsoft. And that's good for all of us.

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