AES and Microsoft team up to power data centers with renewable energy

By Fabiana Negrin Ochoa

 

AES Corp. and Microsoft Corp. have signed a 15-year deal to power the latter’s data centers in Virginia with renewable energy as it moves toward its goal of using only replenishable energy sources by 2025.

AES said Tuesday that it will source the energy from a 576-megawatt portfolio of contracted renewable assets, including wind, solar and battery energy storage projects. These sources will supply the data centers with round-the-clock zero-carbon electricity, the company said.

The energy group said the deal supports the development of a more environmentally friendly internet, citing data from the Virginia Economic Development Partnership estimating that 70% of the world’s internet traffic passes through data centers in the U.S. state.

The agreement follows a similar deal AES struck with Alphabet Inc.’s Google in May to supply the tech major’s Virginia-based data centers with carbon-free energy under a 10-year contract.

Data centers have become a focal point for sustainability advocates due to the huge amounts of energy and water that they consume. Figures from the U.S. Department of Energy indicate that data centers account for roughly 2% of the country’s energy consumption, and used an estimated 660 billion liters of water last year.

Wednesday’s announcement comes after Microsoft last week detailed plans to green up its data centers. Among other measures, the company, which said it’s on track to build between 50 and 100 new data centers every year to accommodate demand, aims to reduce water use in data center operations by 95% by 2024 and be water positive–meaning it replenishes more water than it uses–by 2030.

Microsoft has said it aims to be carbon negative by 2030 and by 2050 have removed from the environment all the carbon it emitted either directly or by electrical consumption since its founding in 1975.

 

Write to Fabiana Negrin Ochoa at [email protected]

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