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

Father’s Day Gift Guide

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?