Microsoft and Engie announced both an innovative, long-term solar and wind energy power purchase agreement (PPA) that provides 24/7 supply in the United States and implementation of Darwin, an energy software developed by Engie using the intelligent cloud services of Microsoft Azure to optimize performance of Engie’s wind, solar, and hybrid (wind + solar) renewable assets worldwide.
The hybrid renewable deal will see Microsoft purchase a total of 230 MW from two Engie projects in Texas, bringing Microsoft’s renewable energy portfolio to more than 1,900 MW. Microsoft will purchase the majority of the output from the new 200 MW Las Lomas wind project, which will be located in Starr & Zapata Counties in south Texas. Microsoft will also purchase 85 MW from the 200 MW Anson Solar Center project, which will be built in in Jones County in central Texas. Engie will operate both projects (coming online in January 2021).
“Engie’s ambition is to work with our customers and communities to lead the transition to a zero-carbon world,” said Isabelle Kocher, CEO of Engie. “We are proud to support Microsoft in its plan to increasingly meet its energy needs with renewable power, and to do so in a highly customized way to meet 24/7 demand over many years.”
Microsoft and Engie serve as example
The relationship between the two companies will not only produce more clean energy in the United States, it also creates an example for how customers can procure it. This PPA includes an innovative volume firming agreement (VFA) that will convert the intermittent renewable energy supply into a fixed 24/7 power solution aligned with Microsoft’s energy needs.
In addition, Engie and Microsoft are advancing the digital transformation of the renewable energy sector. The Darwin software, currently deployed on more than 15,000 MW of assets globally, enables real-time plant monitoring and control, reporting, forecasting, performance monitoring and predictive maintenance, among many other benefits.
Darwin relies on the latest Microsoft Azure intelligent cloud technologies such as IoT and artificial intelligence, including machine learning and cognitive services. Darwin has already enabled Engie to increase plant availability and to enhance production performance of up to a few percent on some of its assets.
With renewable energy expected to be the largest single source of electricity growth in the next five years, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), these kinds of data-driven solutions will become increasingly important.
“Procuring more renewable energy helps transform our operations, but when we pair that with Microsoft’s leading cloud and AI tools, we can transform the world,” said Carlo Purassanta, area vice president, Microsoft France. “This agreement with Engie is an exciting step toward a low-carbon future, driven by capital investments and enabled by data.”