Microsoft has struck a deal with General Electric to buy all the electricity produced in a new wind farm in Ireland to power its cloud computing services in the region.
The tech giant said Monday that the agreement covers output produced over the next 15 years at a 37-megawatt wind farm being built by GE in the southwestern corner of Ireland.
Ireland plays a key role in Microsoft’s global cloud, serving as the data center hub for the company’s Azure North Europe region. Each turbine at the site will have a battery integrated into it to help generate “valuable data” relating to energy storage, GE said. This will allow technicians to test how the batteries can be utilized to “capture and store” excess energy and send it back to the grid when required.
The deal is the latest example of multinational firms driving demand for renewable energy. Tech companies such as Microsoft, Google and Facebook, all of which are rapidly expanding their global data center footprints, have been at the forefront of the drive to push renewable energy.
Last week, Facebook said a new data center in Virginia would be powered by solar energy.
For Microsoft, the deal with GE will increase capacity and reliability in its Irish grid. Ireland already has one of the biggest concentrations of data centers in Europe.
Microsoft located its first data center location in Europe in Dublin back in 2007, and it went on to build three data centers in a small town on the outskirts of the Irish capital, called Clondalkin. Microsoft received approval last year to build four more data centers in the same location.
The GE deal comes less than a year after Microsoft made its biggest wind energy investment to date by purchasing power from a 237-megawatt wind farm to power its data center in Wyoming. The company has set a target to power 50 percent of its data centers with wind, solar or hydropower by 2018, and says it has now acquired nearly 600 megawatts of renewable energy worldwide.