Computer data centers can be a significant consumer of energy and tech giants are doing their part to make that energy is clean. For instance, the NSA’s data center in Utah is expected to use 65 megawatts of electricity a year for an annual electricity bill of $40 million, according to a report in Forbes.
Microsoft announces deal to buy wind farm outside of Chicago
Unlike the NSA, however, US tech companies are searching for clean power to drive their data centers. While Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL) and Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) are known for actively aggressively pursuing clean energy sources for their data centers, today Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) announced that it has inked a 20-year deal to buy wind-based energy from a wind farm outside of Chicago, placing energy into the same electric grid that their large data center in Chicago draws from.
This is not the first go around for Microsoft in clean energy. The tech giant last year inked a similar agreement to buy wind power in Texas for its San Antonio data center and the firm invested in fuel cells for data centers and uses hydro electric power for its data center in its home state of Washington.
Google’s measure for preventing energy loss
Google, for its part, says they install smart temperature controls, use “free-cooling” techniques like using outside air or reused water for cooling, and redesign how power is distributed to reduce unnecessary energy loss. Google has made over a dozen clean power investments over the years, but is mostly looking to utility deals to supply its clean power.
While Microsoft is similar to Google and Apple in pursuing green power, there are important differences. Microsoft interested in monitoring and reducing Microsoft’s overall carbon emissions with the goal of becoming carbon neutral. It is in fact a carbon fee coming from a fund created by Microsoft to match its carbon emissions that is being used to pay for the wind power in Illinois.
Apple is blazing an independent trail, building what are among the largest privately owned solar and clean energy farms in the world around near its data centers in Maiden, North Carolina, and Reno, Nevada. Apple is unique in that most Internet companies don’t want to build and own their own power but, like Google and Microsoft, encourage others to engage in clean energy development tactics.