Microsoft Is Building New Azure Data Centers To Invest In Solar Energy In Arizona

Like some of the major technology companies, Microsoft has invested heavily in the transition from its activities to renewable energy sources, with two of the most recent efforts being made in collaboration with EDP Renewables and Invenergy. Today the company has unveiled yet another initiative in this sector, but on this occasion in Arizona.

As it plans to build two new Azure data center campuses in El Mirage and Goodyear, the company has chosen to partner with First Solar, which is working on its Sun Streams 2 photovoltaic solar power plant in Maricopa County. The 150-megawatt installation will become operational in 2021 and will power the two Azure data centers through a 20-year agreement. This brings the total sustainable energy partnerships of the Redmond giant to almost 1.5 gigawatts.

This, of course, is another step in the technology company's commitment to 100% sustainable business. In fact, it reached its 50% target by 2018 and will exceed 60% this year, ahead of its "early next decade" target. With 70% planned in 2023, Microsoft also wanted to point out that it pursues LEED Gold certification for resource use and waste generation.

A particularly interesting point concerns the way in which data centers are cooled throughout the year:

The advanced design of Microsoft's data centers means that our planned data centers will cool without water for more than half a year. Our design uses outside air instead of water for cooling at temperatures below 85 degrees Fahrenheit. At temperatures above 85 degrees, an evaporative cooling system is used, similar to 'swamp coolers' in homes. This system is very efficient and uses less electricity and a fraction of water used by other water-based cooling systems, such as cooling towers.

Regarding resource conservation, Microsoft has stated that it has got the ball rolling with a water replenishment strategy with the aim of "finding a balance between what our activities consume in regions with pressured water by 2030". In addition, First Solar stated that the solar energy solution would help save "almost 356 million liters of water" annually compared to traditional energy generation methods. In addition to all this, the Redmond company has also invested in a local project that aims to maintain the water levels in Lake Mead.
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