Microsoft pledges to use more renewable energy in its data centers

Microsoft is stepping up its commitment to reduce the impact its data centers have on the environment, with a goal to use 50 percent renewable energy by 2018.

As more services move to the cloud, online giants are building more data centers to keep up. Every Netflix video we stream and every Uber ride we order goes through a massive compute farm somewhere.

On Thursday, Microsoft said it will step up its commitment to reduce the impact its data centers have on the environment. That means using more wind, solar, and hydropower to generate electricity.

“Across the tech sector, we need to recognize that data centers will rank by the middle of the next decade among the largest users of electrical power on the planet,” Brad Smith, the company's president and chief legal officer, said in a blog post.

Today, roughly 44 percent of the electricity used by Microsoft’s data centers comes from renewable energy sources, he said.

“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 said.

Like other Web-scale companies, Microsoft likes to point out that its data centers are already "100 percent carbon neutral." But, as Smith explains, that doesn't mean they're powered entirely by renewable energy. Microsoft buys "renewable energy certificates" and other tools that reflect investments in renewables, allowing it to claim credit for that energy even though it doesn't consume it directly.

Its goal is to increase the renewable energy it uses to directly power its data centers.

Facebook is in a similar position. In 2015, 35 percent of the energy it consumed came from renewable energy sources, according to figures it posted online, and it's aiming for 50 percent in 2018.

Microsoft is cutting its energy use in other ways, too. It charges business units a fee for their carbon use, encouraging them to be more efficient. And it's experimenting with undersea data centers, which may be able to tap into offshore wind farms and require less energy for cooling.

"While we’re proud of our progress, we readily recognize that even bigger steps will be needed in the future," Smith said.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Microsoftrenewable energy

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

James Niccolai

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?