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Microsoft Buys Into Ireland's Wind Power For Next 15 Years

By Tessa Love

As demand for its cloud computing services increases in Ireland, Microsoft has struck a deal with General Electric (GE) to buy all of the energy from its new 37-megawatt wind farm in the country for the next 15 years, becoming one of the first multinational technology companies to support a wind project in Ireland.

The deal is part of a power purchase agreement (PPA), which allows companies like Microsoft to offset the huge amount of energy their data centers consume, often from less environmentally friendly sources, by pushing clean energy to the grid. The wind farm will power Microsoft's massive data center outside of Dublin, which currently powers the North Europe Azure region. The company was also given approval to build four data centers at the site last year, which will significantly increase the need for energy – and environmentally friendly energy, at that. 

In addition to providing clean energy, the project will also produce valuable data on energy storage, which Microsoft and GE will study to help improve the future of renewables. Each turbine will have an integrated battery that will be tested to see how they can be used to capture and store excess energy, and then push it back to the grid as needed. This could potentially provide more predictable power by alleviating the up and down nature of relying on an unpredictable source for energy, i.e. the whims of wind. And thus, it could better enable intermittent clean power sources, like wind energy, to be added to the Irish grid.