Of course, there has been some consternation about cloud’s rapid rise and the environmental effects of building and powering the massive data centers that are required to keep it afloat. In its latest report, Greenpeace warned that growing demand for cloud services could also drive up the use of coal and other fossil fuels when providers locate their data centers in Virginia and other places with low percentages of renewable energy.
In Wyoming, Microsoft and the local utility have found out how to boost clean power usage in the area’s grid. Michelle Patron, director of Sustainability Policy at Microsoft, wrote:
In Cheyenne, WY, Microsoft’s datacenter is by far the biggest customer on the grid. We needed more energy and wanted to use wind power to satisfy our growing demand, but didn’t want the local utility (or ratepayers) to shoulder the cost of this additional investment. So, we crafted an approach that eliminated the need for a new peaking plant to support our wind projects by using our own on site generators as a backup to the grid. By allowing local utilities to tap power from our datacenters’ backup generators during periods of peak demand for the city, we were able to meet our need for clean power while boosting the reliability of the grid and keeping energy prices low for all ratepayers.
Image credit: Microsoft