US technology giant Microsoft has signed the biggest green power purchase agreement to date, accelerating its efforts to achieve carbon neutrality.
The agreement between Microsoft and EDF Renewable Energy will see the software maker powering its data centre in Chicago using electricity generated by the Pilot Hill Wind Project for the next 20 years.
The 175MW facility, just 60 miles from Chicago, is connected to the same grid as Microsoft’s data centre and will go online in 2015.
According to the agreement, Microsoft will get up to 675,000 MWh of renewable energy from the Pilot Hill Wind Project each year, enough to meet the power needs of 70,000 homes in Illinois.
Writing in a blog on Microsoft’s website, the company’s chief environmental strategist Rob Bernard said: “Microsoft is committed to reducing our environmental footprint, and over the past two years we continue to meet our goal of becoming carbon neutral.”
“This project builds on our commitment to renewable energy and our strategic objective to transform the energy supply chain toward radically greater efficiency and reduced environmental impact.”
The Pilot Hill project is already the second wind energy purchase deal Microsoft has signed in the past months.
In November 2013, the company signed a contract with the Keechi Wind Project in Texas.
Both contracts will enable Microsoft to reduce the overall carbon emissions generated in its power hungry facilities.
Microsoft has made the pledge to become carbon neutral in May 2012. Apart from purchasing green energy, the company has since implemented an internal carbon fee which places a price on carbon and aims to improve energy efficiency.
Microsoft data centre in San Antonio, Texas uses recycled waste water for cooling and its Quincy facility in Washington runs on hydropower as a primary source of energy. Microsoft also plans to mount fuel cells onto the data centre’s server racks.