POWER December 2021 - 27

POWER EVENTS
3. Microsoft partnered with Vattenfall to deliver renewable energy 24/7 to the company's
Swedish data centers. This image is of Vattenfall's Stor-Rotliden wind farm, about 20 kilometers
north of Fredrika. Courtesy: Vattenfall
Power (California), Pacific Gas & Electric
(California), San Diego Gas & Electric
(California), Seattle City Light (Washington),
Southern California Edison (California),
and Sacramento Municipal Utility
District (California). SEPA calls this group
its " Leaderboard. "
" So, a couple of
interesting
facts
about these 10: Five of them investorowned,
five of them public power, five
of them in California, five of them other
places in the country, and my favorite
stat, which does not show up in the report
but it's my favorite, five have female
CEOs, and five have male CEOs. I found
that very interesting, " said Hamm.
One thing that differentiated the
Leaderboard companies
from
other
utilities was their commitment to innovation
and collaboration. All of them
have formal partnerships with universities;
whereas, less than half of nonLeaderboard
companies have those
types of agreements. Nine out of 10
Leaderboard utilities have technology
partnerships with other companies, operate
an " innovation center, " and run a
company-owned startup or in-house research
and development department.
The percentage of non-Leaderboard
companies that are engaging in those
activities is far less.
" There's lots of things utilities are
best-in-class at, but there's other things
that they're just not. And it's not realistic
to think that they will quickly, or at least
overnight, become experts in that. So,
there's real opportunities to work across
December 2021 | POWER
the industry-work with partners-to
make progress faster, " Hamm said.
Microsoft's Larger Goal
Hanna Grene, director of Energy Industry
for the Americas with Microsoft
Corp., provided a keynote address on
Oct. 20 (Figure 2). Just like Hamm,
the last time Grene was on stage at
an event was in January 2020 in San
Antonio. " So, this does feel very much
to be the next part of the circle of everything
we've been through, " she said
in her opening.
While many utilities and other companies
are targeting net-zero carbon
emissions by 2050, Microsoft is taking
the carbon reduction theme to a whole
other level. The company has been
carbon-neutral since 2012. That has
been achieved primarily through investments
in offsets that avoid emissions.
The company is currently on a path to
reach a 100% supply of clean energy
by 2025. However, its most ambitious
goal is to be carbon-negative by 2030
and to remove all historical carbon
emissions since the company's founding
in 1975 by 2050. " This is a big goal.
It's a goal that looms large and pushes
our teams to have conversations
around, 'How do we do more, faster?'
because 2030 and 2050 are not that far
away, " Grene said.
Microsoft has more than 220 data
centers worldwide, and the pace of
growth in data centers is astounding.
The company currently measures data
www.powermag.com
center additions in terms of " acres per
month, " according to Grene. With a
footprint that size, it's really " a world
computer. "
" That processing and the amount of
capabilities that we're able to do with
the current Azure footprint is much
more around high-volume computing,
AI [artificial intelligence] and machine
learning capabilities, and even realtime
analytics, " said Grene. " So, it's
grown as an asset, it's grown in how
it serves industry, and it's certainly
grown in the challenge in front of us
to accelerate how we're decarbonizing
and even using those energy loads as
a distributed resource to engage with
the grid and help lower those locational
marginal emissions. "
Microsoft is integrally tied to the power
industry. " We are indeed now critical
infrastructure to critical infrastructure, "
Grene said. " That critical infrastructure
that we provide as a hyperscale cloudcomputing
company and a platform
provider, it doesn't happen without the
energy behind it and the grid behind it
that powers it. "
24/7 Clean Energy
It's one thing to match the total supply of
clean energy with the total demand for
energy at a data center over the course
of a month or year, but it's another thing
to use 100% clean energy 24 hours a
day, seven days a week. Microsoft is focused
on the latter, and partnered with
Vattenfall to prove the concept at a pilot
project in Sweden (Figure 3).
" Together, we developed a 24/7
matching capability, aligning their peak
renewable production with the peak
loads of our data centers, and ensuring
that all of our data centers in Sweden
were in fact fully covered 24/7 with renewable
energy and zero carbon emissions, "
Grene explained. " So, this started
as a proof of technology and a pilot at
one data center in Sweden, and then
rolled out with Vattenfall as a partnership
across Sweden, and now Vattenfall is
actually rolling it out to other customers
that they serve, " she said.
Meanwhile, Microsoft is using the experience
as a template for similar agreements
elsewhere. " We are partnering
with other renewable energy providers
that we work with around the globe to
develop similar capabilities, but specified
to their market and their assets, "
said Grene. ■
-Aaron Larson is POWER's
executive editor.
27
http://www.powermag.com

POWER December 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of POWER December 2021

POWER December 2021 - Cover1
POWER December 2021 - Cover2
POWER December 2021 - 1
POWER December 2021 - 2
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POWER December 2021 - SCover1
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