As demand for cloud computing services increases in Ireland, Microsoft has reached an agreement with General Electric (GE) to purchase all of the electricity for its new 37-megawatt wind farm in the country over the next 15 years, becoming one of the first multinational technology companies to support a wind project in Ireland.
The deal is part of an electric power purchase agreement, which allows companies like Microsoft to offset the massive amount of power consumed by their data centers, often from less environmentally friendly sources. . The wind farm will power Microsoft’s massive data center on the outskirts of Dublin. The company has also received approval to build four new data centers, which will significantly increase the need for power.
In addition to providing clean energy, the project will also provide valuable data on energy storage, which Microsoft and GE will study to help improve the future of renewable energy. Each turbine will have a built-in battery to store excess energy, then put it into the power grid when needed. This could contribute to grid stability at peaks in demand, improving the reliability of an unpredictable source of energy, i.e. the vagaries of the wind. And so, it could allow intermittent clean energy sources such as wind power to join the Irish grid.
This is the first time that a project like this has been implemented in Europe and it could not have come at a better time. In a report released this year, Irish energy supplier EirGrid said growing demand for energy in Ireland is largely due to the deployment of new data centers, a heavy burden on Dublin’s electricity infrastructure. In addition to Microsoft, Google also has a large data center in the region, and Amazon and Apple are planning huge data centers on the outskirts of Dublin.
While this is good for Irish citizens, who want to use cloud computing as much as we do, it has put a strain on the electricity grid. EirGrid expects data centers to account for 15% of total energy demand by 2026, up from less than 2% in 2015.
Christian Belady, Managing Director of Data Center Strategy at Microsoft, said in a press release: “Our commitment will help bring clean new energy to the Irish electricity grid, using innovative elements that can increase capacity, reliability and net capacity. This will make it easier to incorporate new clean energy sources like wind power, which is good for the environment, for Ireland and for our business ”.