Microsoft Goes Carbon Neutral this Summer
Come this summer, Microsoft's operations buildings will go carbon neutral. Starting in July, the company's data centers, software development labs, air travel and office buildings will all take part in the new green energy initiative.
"We recognize that we are not the first company to commit to carbon neutrality," said Microsoft Chief Operating Officer Kevin Turner in a blog post, "but we are hopeful that our decision will encourage other companies large and small to look at what they can do to address this important issue."
Others in the industry have made similar commitments. Google has been carbon neutral since 2007 and both Facebook and Apple have made various clean energy efforts, including new efficient data centers in the last year. Microsoft has been documenting its own set of sustainable energy efforts on its Software Enabled Earth blog since 2009. Thus far, the company has already achieved a 30 percent reduction in its carbon emissions.
Changes in employer habits alone have eliminated about 9.9 million miles of auto travel each year. The company has also adopted CarbonSystems, a cloud-based Enterprise Sustainability Platform, for managing environmental performance across over 600 facilities in over 100 countries.
"During that time we have also accelerated the shift in our business strategy to cloud computing and invested more than $3 billion USD to build facilities and networks globally to support this strategy," according to the company's latest carbon neutral (PDF) white paper.
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Even though Microsoft got somewhat of a bad rap from the likes of Greenpeace last month for not using more sources of renewable energy to power its operations, the company is working to change that.
"The part I’m most excited about is our plan to infuse carbon awareness into every part of our business around the world," wrote Turner, "creating incentives for greater efficiency, increased purchases of renewable energy, better data collection and reporting, and an overall reduction of our environmental impact."
Major move forward for UK’s nascent marine energy sector
Although the industry is small and the technologies are limited, marine-based energy systems look to be taking off as “the world’s most powerful tidal turbine” begins grid-connected power generation at the European Marine Energy Centre.
At around 74 metres long, the turbine single-handedly holds the potential to supply the annual electricity demand to approximately 2,000 homes within the UK and offset 2,200 tonnes of CO2 per year.
Orbital Marine Power, a privately held Scottish-based company, announced the turbine is set to operate for around 15 years in the waters surrounding Orkney, Scotland, where the 2-megawatt O2 turbine weighing around 680 metric tons will be linked to a local on-land electricity network via a subsea cable.
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Described as a “major milestone for O2” by CEO of Orbital Marine Power Andrew Scott, the turbine will also supply additional power to generate ‘green hydrogen’ through the use of a land-based electrolyser in the hopes it will demonstrate the “decarbonisation of wider energy requirements.”
“Our vision is that this project is the trigger to the harnessing of tidal stream resources around the world to play a role in tackling climate change whilst creating a new, low-carbon industrial sector,” says Scott in a statement.
The Scottish Government has awarded £3.4 million through the Saltire Tidal Energy Challenge Fund to support the project’s construction, while public lenders also contributed to the financial requirements of the tidal turbine through the ethical investment platform Abundance Investment.
“The deployment of Orbital Marine Power’s O2, the world’s most powerful tidal turbine, is a proud moment for Scotland and a significant milestone in our journey to net zero,” says Michael Matheson, the Cabinet Secretary for Net-Zero, Energy and Transport for the Scottish Government.
“With our abundant natural resources, expertise and ambition, Scotland is ideally placed to harness the enormous global market for marine energy whilst helping deliver a net-zero economy.
“That’s why the Scottish Government has consistently supported the marine energy sector for over 10 years.”
However, Orbital Marine CEO Scott believes there’s potential to commercialise the technology being used in the project with the prospect of working towards more efficient and advanced marine energy projects in the future.
“We believe pioneering our vision in the UK can deliver on a broad spectrum of political initiatives across net-zero, levelling up and building back better at the same time as demonstrating global leadership in the area of low carbon innovation that is essential to creating a more sustainable future for the generations to come.”
The UK’s growing marine energy endeavours
This latest tidal turbine project isn’t a first for marine energy in the UK. The Port of London Authority permitted the River Thames to become a temporary home for trials into tidal energy technology and, more recently, a research project spanning the course of a year is set to focus on the potential tidal, wave, and floating wind technology holds for the future efficiency of renewable energy. The research is due to take place off of the Southwest coast of England on the Isles of Scilly