IT titan Microsoft has announced the purchase of 237 megawatts (MW) of wind energy to enable its Cheyenne datacentre in Wyoming to be entirely wind-powered on an annual basis.

The 237MW onshore wind acquisition, through agreements made with Allianz Risk Transfer (ART) and Black Hills Corporation (a subsidiary of Black Hills Energy) almost doubles the company’s wind power holdings to more than 500MW.

"Microsoft is committed to building a responsible cloud, and these agreements represent progress toward our goal of improving the energy mix at our datacentres," said Brad Smith, president and chief legal officer at Microsoft. "Our commitment extends beyond greening our own operations because these projects help create a greener, more reliable grid in the communities in which we operate."

Microsoft has contracted with ART to fix its long-term energy costs and purchase the environmental attributes connected with the new 178MW Bloom Wind project near Dodge City in Kansas, one of the windiest places in the United States. The project is the first to use a novel risk management structure developed by ART to hedge wind volume risks and offset high upfront costs associated with the creation of large-scale wind projects. Microsoft is the first buyer to participate in this structure, which has the potential to bring clean energy projects online at a faster pace.

The long-term agreement with Black Hills Energy is to purchase 59MW of renewable energy certificates from the Happy Jack and Silver Sage wind projects, which are adjacent to Microsoft's Cheyenne datacentre. The combined output of the Bloom and Happy Jack/Silver Sage projects will produce enough energy on an annual basis to cover the annual energy used at the datacentre.

Microsoft and Black Hills Energy also worked together to create a new tariff, available to all eligible customers, that allows the utility to tap the local datacentre's backup generators, thereby eliminating the need for Black Hills Energy to construct a new power plant.

These are Microsoft's third and fourth wind energy agreements, joining the 175MW Pilot Hill wind project in Illinois and 110MW Keechi wind project in Texas.

In March, Microsoft also signed an agreement with the US state of Virginia and Dominion Energy to bring 20MW of solar energy onto the grid.

Image of Bloom Wind farm courtesy of Capital Power