Microsoft and GE team up on wind energy and battery tech
Microsoft and GE team up on wind energy and battery tech

Microsoft and GE team up on wind energy and battery tech

Tech giant Microsoft has teamed up with General Electric (GE) on a new wind energy agreement in Ireland, which the two companies claim could transform battery technology development.

Microsoft has entered 15-year power purchase agreement with GE and is purchasing 100 percent of the wind energy generated at GE’s brand new, 37-megawatt Tullahennel wind farm in County Kerry.

Transforming battery tech

Each turbine at Tullahnnel boasts an integrated battery, and the two companies want to test how efficiently they can capture and store excess energy before sending it to the grid as needed.

This will be Europe’s first deployment of battery integration with wind turbines, they claim. By storing energy in this way, it will be easier to provide more predictable power to an increasingly green Irish grid and integrate renewables like wind energy with older forms of power generation.

The agreement will also support growing demand for Microsoft’s data center-based cloud services in Ireland and, as part of the deal, Dublin-based trading business ElectroRoute will offer energy trading services.

Christian Belady, general manager of data center strategy at Microsoft, said: “Microsoft is proud to be deepening our long history of investment and partnership in Ireland with this agreement.

“Our commitment will help bring new, clean energy to the Irish grid, and contains innovative elements that have the potential to grow the capacity, reliability and capability of the grid. This will make it easier to incorporate new clean power sources like wind energy, and that is good for the environment, for Ireland and for our company.”

Read more: Battery tech will power global smart grid ambitions

IIoT data on Predix

General Electric’s own digital wind farm technology will also be used in the project. This is capable of making renewable energy outputs even more reliable, it claims. The Predix platform from GE, which provides a platform for the analysis of industrial IoT (IIoT) data, offers a range of digital models to ensure that energy generation can meet forecasted demand and to reduce intermittency concerns.

Andres Isaza, chief commercial officer of GE Renewable Energy, said: “This partnership with Microsoft expands GE’s considerable presence and investment in Ireland, where we already employ over 1,500 people and, in particular, in the renewable energy sector.

“Wind is now one of the most competitive sources of electricity on the market today, and we’re excited about the capability to use data generated from these wind turbines, using the Predix platform, to maximise the output and value of this project.”

Read more: Inmarsat research: skills gap threatens IoT innovation in energy sector

Investing in Ireland

Microsoft will also acquire an Irish energy supply license from GE, allowing to easily grow and invest in renewable energy in Ireland over time. ElectroRoute will act as a trading service provider.

Ronan Doherty, chief executive at ElectroRoute, said the company was delighted to be working with Microsoft and GE. “The wind energy sector is particularly vibrant in Ireland at the moment, and we are seeing the emergence of an array of new structures and procurement approaches, which I feel will persist and grow into the future,” he commented. 

Other tech giants are thinking along similar lines as the cost of renewable energy continues to fall. Last week, Facebook announced plans for a new US data centre in Virginia to be supplied by solar power facilities built by Dominion Energy.

On 28 & 29 November 2017, we will be holding our Battery and Energy Storage Show event at The Slate at Warwick University Campus, UK, featuring a wide range of specialist speakers from both the private and public sectors.