Microsoft Corporation has always been known for their image of environmental protection but this may be their biggest validation to date. The tech company announced on Monday they are in the process converting their datacenter in Cheyenne Wyoming to rely entirely on wind energy. Microsoft will be using three wind farms, two in Kansas owned by Allianz Risk Transfer AG, and the other by Black Hills Corp. in Wyoming. The farms will provide Microsoft with 178 megawatts and 59 megawatts of capacity in wind power respectively.
Microsoft uses datacenters to operate their cloud services. These facilities require an ample amount of electricity to function and the usage levels are only growing as the service becomes more conventional. Microsoft’s goal is to attain a level of 44 percent use of renewables by the end of the year. This is simply another dimension of competition for tech companies promoting cloud services. Amazon web services (AWS) hopes to achieve a level of 40 percent reliance on renewables by the end of the year. Google only taps into clean energy for 35 percent for their datacenters.
Black Hills Corp. is one of the two companies entering the contract with Microsoft. The publically traded company disclosed on October 25th they would be offering a dividend for any of their shareholders prior to November 15th. The stock has been showing a downward trend since the announcement but will likely rebound based on the future success with their new partner. The company’s stock climbed 30 cents following Microsoft’s press release. Microsoft has always been considered a safe long-term investment. With an average earnings growth rate forecasted at 8.13 percent over the next five years, the company is generally a safe investment choice.
Under Microsoft’s agreement with Black Hills, any surplus power can be stored in backup generators and later distributed to the grid at a discounted rate. In terms of their public image, this will benefit both firms. Corporate promotion of renewable energy is becoming routine for industry leaders. Governments often provide tax cuts to these companies for taking the initiative and aligning their interests with global efforts. Bloomberg forecasts that the top 50 corporations that purchase solar and wind energy will have accounted for 63.4 gigawatts of total production added by 2025.
This can be chalked up as another victory for renewables as we slowly shift away from common power sources like coal and oil. Local Wyoming consumers will prefer this alternative, more eco-friendly source of power as opposed to power from the grid likely produced using power plants. On a larger scale, as we observe the nation moving away from fuel sources such as coal, crude oil, and natural gas, we can expect the price of these products to decline. Investors should write long-term futures in any of these sources as they are replaced. To hedge their bets, individuals should buy green ETFs, made up of environmentally friendly corporations.
By Michael McDonald of Oilprice.com
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