Broadwind Energy Inc.: Microsoft purchases 175 MW of wind energy to power …

July 21, 2014 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

Microsoft announced on July 16 that it will begin an investment in a 175 megawatt (MW) wind energy project from Pilot Hill Wind Project located in Illinois, Forbes reported. The new project will be funded through Microsoft’s carbon free initiative and a part of a 20-year agreement with the energy company.

According to the source, the new wind farm project will be the largest wind investment made by Microsoft in its history. In November 2013, Microsoft bought 110 MW of wind energy from the Keechi Wind Farm, which was its first wind investment ever.

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The new Pilot Hill project will have enough energy to power to nearly 70,000 standard homes in Illinois, but the energy will be used to power Microsoft’s data center located in Chicago. Microsoft will connect its data center to the Pilot Hill farm facility 60 miles away from Chicago and it will spread across Kankakee and Iroquois counties, Forbes reported.

In comparison to the Keechi wind farm in Texas, the Pilot Hill farm will produce approximately 60 percent more energy, Computer Weekly reported.

“This project builds on our commitment to renewable energy and our strategic objective to transform the energy supply chain toward radically greater efficiency and reduced environmental impact,” said Rob Bernard, the chief environmental strategist at Microsoft, according to the source.

The Illinois wind farm is on the same grid that runs the Chicago data center office for Microsoft and will be able to provide clean energy as early as next year, the source reported.

“The energy generated at Pilot Hill is ‘additional’, which means that our purchase is bringing new renewable energy onto the Illinois electric grid,” said Bernard, according to the source. “By purchasing wind, we will reduce the overall amount of emissions associated with operating Microsoft facilities and hopefully spur additional investment in renewable energy.”

Illinois and wind energy

Wind energy has slowly been growing in Illinois as more projects get online and connected to the grid. According to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), Illinois was able to meet 4.7 percent of the state’s energy demand with wind turbines alone.

The total amount of energy produced by wind farms in the state equals the same amount it takes to power more than 1 million standard Illinois homes. According to the AWEA, there are at least 46 wind projects operating in the state with 2,195 wind turbines spread across Illinois. The transmission connections from wind power reach major cities such as Chicago, Springfield, Bloomington, Joliet and Champaign-Urbana.

“Because the Chicago [data center] 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,” said Bernard, according to Computer Weekly.

Microsoft was acknowledged by the Environmental Protection Agency as the second-largest buyer of green power in the U.S. after leading tech company Intel, the source reported. With more major companies investing in wind energy, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) need to provide wind farmers with the best blades and uptower maintenance. Broadwind offers a complete list of maintenance and upkeep repairs for OEMs.

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