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back to article Microsoft buys all electricity from Texas wind farm

Microsoft has decided to acquire the entire output of a wind farm. Microsoft says the farm in question is the “Keechi Wind project, a 110 MW wind facility 70 miles northwest of Ft. Worth, Texas, near the town of Jacksboro. The wind farm is on the same electric grid that powers our datacenter in San Antonio.” “By purchasing wind …

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Re: Nice PR, but...

You're making an argument for never starting to change anything - which is either ridiculous, or disingenuous.

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Nearly symbiotic, they could drive them with convection from all the hot air that comes out of sales dept ?

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Joke

Does this explain Azure outages

days when no wind = no electric thus no Azure Cloud

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Re: Does this explain Azure outages

"days when no wind = no electric thus no Azure Cloud"

Wind will fill in for other zero emission power sources such as Bloom energy fuel cells.....

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Does this explain Azure outages

" other zero emission power sources such as Bloom energy fuel cells"

zero emission, or zero output?

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Backup capacity

And who pays for the backup capacity in the grid? Maybe they do have standby diesel, but I'm guessing they keep very quiet about annual averaged emissions if they do.

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Re: Backup capacity

Who pays? Microsoft, of course. But it's a silly question. Arguments about CO2 and subsidies aside this kind of arrangement makes a lot of sense: the price of the energy produced by the the plant is fixed for pretty much forever. Yes, that includes some hedging for purchasing from the grid should supply not meet demand, but less so than buying entirely from the grid.

Assuming planned demand is close to expected output this makes the data centre independent of the utilities and avoids possible conflicts with other customers. Wind and solar make small, local power plants financially viable: who would build a coal, gas or nuclear power station with just 55 MW capacity?

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Re: Backup capacity

"Yes, that includes some hedging for purchasing from the grid should supply not meet demand, but less so than buying entirely from the grid."

Is that how it works? Really? MS have installed a 70 mile cable all the way to the wind farm?

I was under the impression that a windfarm generated some amount of electricity and customers buy some amount of electricity. The idea is that hopefully the customers purchases from the grid balances with the generators output to the grid.

You don't actually get the specific "green" electricity direct from the supplier.

In fact, I'd be interested to know how this is all reconciled to demonstrate that the customers paying especially for "green" electricity, often at higher rates, are actually using less than or equal to the actual amount generated. How can we tell if someone in the chain isn't selling that "green" electricity more than once?

At least here in the UK there are companies who specialise in selling "green" electricity, some are subsidiaries of the big boys (or even just "green" tariffs sold by the big boys). What is their total sales and what is the "green" generating capacity? Do those in higher "green" tariffs get a refund if demand for "green" outstrips supply and supplemented by cheaper gas generated 'leccy

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Inevitable question

When the wind isn't blowing they do what?

Buy from the grid adding to the the variability of the grid demand and thereby pushing up prices for everyone else?

Brill.

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WTF?

Re: Inevitable question

Yes, nobody should build anything.

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Re: Inevitable question

That was going to be the case no matter who consumed the output of the wind farm.

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Re: Inevitable question

Unless the consumer was a pumped storage company, which is pretty much the only way to sensibly use wind without also having to pay to keep on-demand sources on hot standby (which we all know is unbelievably wasteful).

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Inevitable question

The timescale of the variability of wind is quite a good match for the response time of classical fossil-to-steam power stations, which take a few hours to warm up. Wind takes quite a few hours to drop to near zero, and such a drop is usually foreseeable. There is absolutely no technical need for more wind to need dispatchable generation on *hot* standby ready to instantly go on-load.

Pumped storage is always handy though, whether it's for instant response to unforeseen outages anywhere on the grid, or for predicted support to cycles in demand.

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Typical Microsoft

Rather than lead, Microsoft is following.

Rather than invent, Microsoft is buying the work of others, and only for appearances.

Apple builds their own solar installations and started many years ago. IIRC Apple uses hydrogen generators and hydrogen fuel cells to fill the valleys between peaks. Without such storage someone has to keep peakers on line for service at a moment's notice, and that mostly negates any advantage from undependable "green" sources.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Typical Microsoft

"Rather than lead, Microsoft is following."

Nope Microsoft is ahead of the curve on Datacentre design - just like they are on OSs with the only fully featured touch OS

Microsoft were one of the first to deploy high efficiency fully modular datacentres - before Apple, and have been low carbon for years.

See http://blogs.technet.com/b/curiousgeorge/archive/2009/01/20/microsoft-s-generation-4-data-center-strategy.aspx

and http://www.greenbiz.com/blog/2012/11/26/microsoft-debut-sewage-powered-data-center

And http://gigaom.com/2011/04/01/u-n-taps-microsoft-for-green-data-center-tech/

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Re: Typical Microsoft

"Been low carbon for years" is not the same as "no carbon". That's like saying "Microsoft has made high uptime block storage servers for years." High uptime != 100% uptime, which is a hell of a difference to the company that's suffering an outage.

Actually, you make a good point, however, that describes Microsoft's views on the matter...and neatly ram home exactly how they Don't Get It in most things.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Typical Microsoft

""Been low carbon for years" is not the same as "no carbon"."

So which datacentre owners on a similar scale to Microsoft have no carbon impact?

"High uptime != 100% uptime, "

Which datacentres offer 100% uptime then?

It seems to be you that doesn't get it...

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Re: Typical Microsoft

Apple's aim is negative carbon across the whole company. And plenty of storage vendors offer 100% uptime.

Again, you assume I am talking about datacenters there. Very "Microsoft today." Take your Azure and stuff it into your NSA-monitored by-the-minute-billed overpriced sack of shit, Redmondian.

I'll run my own stuff. Increasingly, however, that can't include Microsoft. Not stable enough and certainly not enough bang for the buck. Just Not Getting It. As ususal.

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