Microsoft wants 50% of its datacenters powered by wind, solar or water by 2018

Microsoft has outlined new goals for powering up its datacenters around the world to help conserve energy. The company wants 50% of its datacenters powered by wind, solar or water by the end of 2018.

Microsoft President Brad Smith outlined the company's new datacenter energy goals{.nofollow}:

Across the tech sector we need to recognize that datacenters will rank by the middle of the next decade among the large users of electrical power on the planet. We need to keep working on a sustained basis to build and operate greener datacenters that will serve the world well.For Microsoft, this means moving beyond datacenters that are already 100 percent carbon neutral to also having those datacenters rely on a larger percentage of wind, solar and hydropower electricity over time. Today roughly 44 percent of the electricity used by our datacenters comes from these sources. Our goal is to pass the 50 percent milestone by the end of 2018, top 60 percent early in the next decade, and then to keep improving from there.

Smith added that Microsoft is looking at other energy sources to power its datacenters, including biogas and fuel cells. Microsoft will also provide an annual report on its energy use, including the different mix of sources for the power that it uses.

43 Comments
  • Hmmm...
  • Already 100% carbon neutral... So, nuclear? I'm okay with that. A lot more so than fossil fuel.
  • You can still use coal and be carbon neutral, it just takes a lot of offsetting through other means such as carbon credit trading.
  • This is great! The cynic in me wants to believe that had Apple announced that they were planning to do this, the whole world would go on a non stop parade of praise for Apple.
  • Anyone but Microsoft, couldnt agree more.
  • Why would they go from 100% today to 50% Soon?
  • Carbon neutral means any emissions are offset. This is already happening; the article is about to increasing the use of renewables to directly power the datacenters.
  • I did not mean MS.
  • Then I assume you mean Apple. Source?
  • Apple reached 100% renewable at all of their data centers in 2013: http://www.datacenterdynamics.com/design-build/apple-reaches-100-renewab...
  • Much easier to do when you are not running the second largest cloud operation in the world and have a much smaller product line.  I'm glad Apple has done is, but its really not comparable to Azure or AWS, which consume far more power and serve a huge chunk of the market for data/compute.
  • I believe the largest, they're bigger than Google and Amazon combined.
  • https://www.srgresearch.com/articles/aws-remains-dominant-despite-micros... I don't know what you are basing that on, but Amazon is roughly 3x the size of Microsoft, who is a fairly distant second place in cloud services.  Granted that is not all of Microsoft's datacenter presence, but it is likely the majority of it, and for other segments Amazon is likely as large as Microsoft given their own business model is entirely web driven.
  • Lol all that downtime on xbl
  • Conserve energy and save money for investors.
  • The way the electricity was generated has no effect on energy or financial savings. Not to say that Microsoft isn't trying to be more energy efficient but changing how the electricity is sourced won't reduce how much is needed. It may indirectly cause them to use less as the more environmentally sustainable power sources are often more expensive per KWh though, meaning that they have to find ways to use less to keep costs down.
  • Honestly though, renewable power tends to actually be cheaper power.  Here in WA state we are over 85% renewable, hydro and nuclear and we have some of the cheapest power in the country.  Even more important for those placing long term bets, the cost of power is remarkably stable and not subject to the commodities market fluctuations like gas/oil/coal tend to be.  Stable costs permit Microsoft and others to better predict future pricing.
  • Good news.
  • Didn't know they were already carbon neutral. Weird that they haven't marketed that more. Maybe they genuinely care about the environment? Anyway, it's good to hear they take these kinds of things into account when growing their business. Sent from a shiny electronic rectangle.
  • Marketing isn't really Microsoft's strong suit.
  • One thing they need to change on. Marketing and transparency. Microsoft needs to be a bit more open about their plans and goals. Windows Central Universal Application for Windows 10
  • When I was with Microsoft in the late 90's they were already pushing us to save energy for both cost and environmental reasons, long before it was fashionable to do so.  I remember the posters we had in the halls reminding us what the annual power consumption was per PC and encouraging us to enable suspend/hibernate on our work pc's.
  • I didn't know they were already carbon neutral, I would have thought that would have been more heavily marketed. Maybe they genuinely care about the environment? Anyway, its good to hear that they take these kinds of things into account as they grow their business. Sent from a shiny electronic rectangle.
  • I didn't know they were already carbon neutral, I would have thought that would have been more heavily marketed. Maybe they genuinely care about the environment? Anyway, its good to hear that they take these kinds of things into account as they grow their business. Sent from a shiny electronic rectangle.
  • So, water I guess.
  • YASSS!!! Go Microsoft on being eco-friendly!
  • Tbh, as a save the planet type of person myself, it's one of the reasons I support MS. Bill Gates and his wife also donate a lot to charities. They have my support.
  • That's awesome. Feels like we're on a tipping point. Lots of businesses switching to solar and I see a ton of those Solar City vehicles on the road.
  • I want 50% wp marketshare :(
  • LOL, so dont all WP users but, the reality of it is we would be lucky if we could hit 10% if Microsoft dumped in 1 billion in advertising...and we know that IS NOT going to happen...
  • ... so sadly true ...
  • I can help Microsoft achieve this goal...
  • I'm confused... The data centers are already "carbon neutral," which I understand to mean they aren't contributing to adding CO2 to the atmosphere. What is gained by this switch? What does it accomplish? Do they plan on becoming carbon negative or something by using solar energy to break down carbon dioxide? I need an ELI5 version of this.
  • It's more of a total inputs vs total outputs than about the actual carbon dioxide. You could have a carbon negative building from an electricity standpoint if it generated more solar electricity than it used. The excess would then be sold to carbon positive buildings to offset their carbon positive electricity. While it is possible to have a carbon negative building you typically only hear about neutral because if you can't sell the excess there is no point in going past neutral.
  • Renewable power is not the same thing as carbon neutrality.  Carbon neutrality can be achieved via a number of methods, not all of them are renewable.  For instance you can buy carbon credits from other industries that are reducing carbon footprints to offset your own output.  Or you can go with non-renewable but non-carbon producing methods like nuclear power (which I'm fine with).  But the advantages of renewable are that you have a predictable power source that will not run out until our sun dies, and as such is predictable in cost and minimizes environmental impact.  But that is not the same thing as carbon neutrality (although they often go hand in hand).
  • I think that is great but Micrrosoft also must very quickly consult a Geologist and make a secondary headquarters in a safe state away from geological Earth quake zones and away from a full yellow stone Super Volcano eruption. Microsoft's present head quarters is in the cascade fault zone if that fualt has an earthquake and it will it's only a matter of time Many Microsoft employess and their families could be killed by Earthquake and Tidal waves or Volcanic ash in their lungs  
  • Ok thanks?? I guess.  It is nice to see you read some scientific article, but we are not on a date, so no need to impress us.
  • If Yellowstone erupts on the scale that concerns you, all of North America would be devesated, and the world would enter a global cooling trend resulting in mass famine and economic collapse.  Whether or not a Surface Phone ever came out would be beside the point.
  • Microsoft does the right thing!!
  • Bernie! Bernie! Bernie!
  • Its over, deal with it. Sorry your "give me free stuff" candidate didn't win.  
  • Time and effort better spent on fixing problems with W10 and mobile, and cutting costs.
  • As always late