Microsoft Bets on Green Artificial Intelligence

Microsoft has agreed to support the development of 10.5 gigawatts of new renewable energy capacity worldwide to power its AI ambitions and meet its climate goals.

 

The Major Investment in Renewable Energy

To put this into perspective, 10.5 GW of renewable energy is almost half of California’s solar and wind capacity in 2022. This is the largest corporate renewable energy purchase agreement to date, according to BloombergNEF. Microsoft signed the deal with Brookfield Asset Management, making it nearly eight times larger than the previous biggest corporate power purchase agreement.

Microsoft is heavily investing in AI solutions for its customers, with over $13 billion invested in OpenAI. However, AI is notoriously energy-intensive, which risks increasing greenhouse gas emissions as its data centers consume more electricity. This could be problematic if Microsoft is serious about its commitment to be carbon negative by the end of the decade. It will need much more renewable energy to keep its carbon footprint under control.

Microsoft apuesta por una IA verde

Microsoft’s Environmental Commitment

Microsoft has pledged to match 100% of its electricity consumption with carbon-free energy purchases by 2030. It cannot achieve this without more wind and solar farms connected to the grid, and this agreement is helping to change that situation.

To be carbon negative within the same timeframe, it will also need to capture any remaining emissions that it hasn’t been able to reduce with clean energy. However, carbon capture remains prohibitively expensive and hasn’t proven effective at scale, whereas solar energy has become the cheapest source of energy in history.

“Microsoft wants to use our influence and purchasing power to create a lasting positive impact for all electricity consumers,” said Adrian Anderson, General Manager of Renewable Energy, Carbon-Free Energy, and Carbon Dioxide Removal at Microsoft, in a press release.

 

Costs and Expansion Challenges

BloombergNEF estimates that it could cost between $11.5 and $17 billion to build this new capacity, which should be online between 2026 and 2030. (Microsoft and Brookfield declined to confirm the figure publicly).

Brookfield claims the deal will enable it to invest in new renewable energy projects in the United States, Europe, Latin America, Asia, and the Pacific. Microsoft will buy the electricity generated at each new location.

Electric grids need all the extra capacity they can get as new AI data centers are expected to put more strain on them. According to the International Energy Agency, AI could consume up to 10 times more electricity in 2026 than in 2023.

Do you think the investment in AI justifies these environmental costs and challenges?

 

The Importance of Expanding Global Energy Capacity

The agreement between Microsoft and Brookfield allows the latter to invest in new renewable energy projects worldwide. This is crucial given the impact AI will have on electricity demand.

For Microsoft to reach its 100% clean energy goal by 2030, it needs to increase the amount of solar and wind energy connected to the grid in the coming years. This agreement is a significant step in that direction.

How can increasing energy capacity help reduce the environmental impact of AI?

 

Microsoft and the Future of Green Technology

This agreement between Microsoft and Brookfield aligns with global climate goals and reinforces Microsoft’s role as a leader in green technology. The company has a significant influence on the adoption of renewable energy in the tech sector and beyond.

Investing in renewable energy will not only help Microsoft meet its own climate goals but could also motivate other tech companies to follow the same path towards sustainability.

How can this partnership motivate other tech companies to follow the same path towards sustainability?

 

Final Thoughts

Microsoft has set a new standard with its renewable energy commitment, and this will significantly impact the tech industry and global climate goals.

Do you think these types of agreements will pave the way for a more sustainable future for the tech sector?

 

Source: The Verge

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