MICROSOFT ANNOUNCED its "largest wind project to date" on Tuesday, following in the footsteps of rival Apple, which last week invested in its third solar farm.
Microsoft has committed to a 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA) with EDF Renewable Energy for wind energy in Illinois, which follows a similar agreement that the firm signed last November for wind energy from the Keechi Wind Project in Texas.
This latest investment will see Microsoft buy up to an estimated 675,000MWh of renewable energy per year from the Pilot Hill Wind Project, which the firm claims is enough "to meet the power needs of 70,000 homes in Illinois".
Microsoft chief environmental strategist Robert Bernard said in a blog post, "Microsoft is committed to reducing our environmental footprint, and over the past two years we continue to meet our goal of becoming carbon neutral.
"By purchasing wind, we will reduce the overall amount of emissions associated with operating Microsoft facilities and hopefully spur additional investment in renewable energy. Because the Chicago datacenter draws power from the Illinois power grid, projects like Pilot Hill help provide a non-polluting source of energy that displaces greenhouse gas emissions from conventional power."
Pilot Hill Wind Project construction has already commenced and will begin delivering green power in 2015, Microsoft said.
"We know that we still have work to do, and we will continue to pursue energy efficiency and clean energy projects, from smarter buildings to more efficient datacenters," Bernard added.
"The Pilot Hill Wind Project is another major step to continue our drive to reduce our environmental footprint and to be carbon neutral."
Senior energy campaigner at Greenpeace, David Pomerantz, has welcomed the announcement. He said, "Microsoft's wind energy purchase shows that it intends to compete in the race among cloud computing companies to power their operations with renewable energy.
"Microsoft's large purchases of wind energy in Illinois and Texas, taken alongside the commitments by cloud competitors Rackspace and Google to power their respective operations with 100 [percent] renewable energy, highlight the failure by Amazon Web Services to reach even the starting line in the race to build a clean cloud and green internet.
"As other companies move to embrace solar and wind, AWS risks losing business from customers that are beginning to expect their cloud to be powered by renewable energy."
This news from Microsoft follows Apple's announcement that it has thrown $55m into a 100-acre, 17.5 megawatt solar farm in North Carolina to power its iCloud services. This news also triggered criticism of Amazon, with Greenpeace saying that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos ought to follow Apple CEO Tim Cook's lead. µ