Microsoft has inked a 15-year agreement with General Electric (GE) to purchase all wind energy produced at GE’s new 37-megawatt wind farm in County Kerry, in the southwestern corner of Ireland.
Through this deal, the duo will also delve into energy storage solutions that look at ways to harness excess energy and distribute it back into the national grid. “This will better enable intermittent clean power sources, like wind energy, to be added to the Irish grid,” Microsoft said in a press release, noting that this will be the first major implementation of batteries in wind turbines in Europe.
Ireland plays a key role in Microsoft’s global cloud service provisions, and it serves as the data center hub for the company’s Azure North Europe region. The computing giant announced Dublin as its first data center location in Europe back in 2007, and it went on to build three data centers in Clondalkin, a small town on the outskirts of the Irish capital. Last year, Microsoft received approval to build four more data centers in the same location.
The demand for cloud services has grown significantly, with a recent Gartner report indicating that the public cloud services market would grow 18 percent this year to $246.8 billion. This is leading to a major push from cloud service providers, including Microsoft, which recently beat both Amazon and Google to announce its first African data centers — expected to open in 2018. Last month, Google announced its first Cloud Platform region in South America, where both Microsoft and Amazon have already provided cloud services for several years.
Today’s news comes less than a year after Microsoft revealed its biggest wind energy investment to date, in the form of a 237-megawatt purchase to power its Wyoming data center. The latest deal will help support the company’s previously announced commitment to power its data center infrastructure with 50 percent renewable energy by 2018, though cloud rival Google has recently stated it will achieve 100 percent renewable energy status by this year.