Giant IT companies with giant energy needs—Microsoft and Google are great examples—have been looking for low-cost, low-polluting ways of powering their massive server farms for years. In fact, both firms built server farms along the Columbia River in Washington and Oregon in order to take advantage of some of the cheapest hydro-power in the country. Could they now be looking to the wind to help power their European operations?
Late last week, the Financial Times speculated that Microsoft and Google could be pondering investments in offshore wind farms in Britain.
The story posits that wind power must play an increasing role in the Britain’s power mix if the country is to meet its aggressive goal of 30 percent renewable energy generation by 2020. And it suggests that financial support from major Internet firms such as Google and Microsoft could serve to resuscitate the wind power industry there, which lost momentum due to the global recession.
And since both Google and Microsoft have already made significant investments in renewable energy here in the US, it’s not a stretch to think they’d do the same to lower their carbon footprints overseas.
In fact, the article points out that Microsoft selected Dublin as the site of a major European data center in order to take advantage of the cool air there as a natural coolant for its servers.
But even if the guess is correct and the firms end up giving a lift to the wind industry, the efforts to establish significant offshore power generation will require buy-in from many other players. The paper says the industry needs to raise an estimated £100 billion ($163 bllion USD) in order to become a viable energy provider.