Microsoft signs wind power deal for Irish data centres

10 October 2017 | James Pearce

Microsoft has announced a deal with General Electric that will see it buy all of the electricity from the firm’s new Irish wind farm in order to power its data centres.

The deal sees Microsoft take all of the output from GE’s new 37-megawatt wind farm, located in County Kerry, for the next 15 years in order to support its cloud computing services.

Microsoft will also acquire a licence as part of the deal which will allow it to sell surplus electricity into the country’s power grid, while the agreement takes the firm’s procurement of renewable energy near to 600Mw worldwide.

In addition to producing energy, the project will produce valuable data on energy storage, Microsoft said, by testing battery technology integrated into the wind turbines, the first deployment of its kind in Europe.

"Microsoft is proud to be deepening our long history of investment and partnership in Ireland with this agreement," said Christian Belady, general manager, data centre strategy at Microsoft. 

"Our commitment will help bring new, clean energy to the Irish grid, and contains innovative elements that have the potential to grow the capacity, reliability and capability of the grid. This will make it easier to incorporate new clean power sources like wind energy, and that is good for the environment, for Ireland and for our company."

Microsoft currently operates a data centre at the Grange Castle Business Park in Clondalkin, just west of Dublin, that powers its North Europe Azure region, while it has also received planning permission to develop four more sites in Ireland.

Ireland has a large concentrations of data centres with the likes of Apple, Google and Amazon all either operating, or planning, facilities in the country. ESB Networks, Ireland’s grid operator, has warned of "unprecedented load growth" from data centres, which can each consume as much electricity as a large regional town.

Andres Isaza, chief commercial officer of GE Renewable Energy, said, "This partnership with Microsoft expands GE’s considerable presence and investment in Ireland, where we already employ over 1,500 people and in particular in the renewable energy sector. 

"Wind is now one of the most competitive sources of electricity on the market today, and we’re excited about the capability to use data generated from these wind turbines, using the Predix platform, to maximize the output and value of this project."

Topics: Microsoft, General Electric, wind power, data centre, cloud, azure