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Microsoft strikes ‘strategic alliance’ with photo voltaic producer

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Microsoft simply cast a strategic alliance with a serious photo voltaic panel producer to attempt to make good on its clear vitality targets. The deal comes as provide chain woes and allegations of labor abuse are making it more and more troublesome to deploy photo voltaic vitality throughout the US.

The plan is for photo voltaic vitality heavyweight Qcells to offer greater than 2.5 gigawatts of photo voltaic panels and associated companies to builders working with Microsoft. That’s sufficient to energy some 400,000 properties, according to Microsoft, which hailed the collaboration as a “first-of-its-kind.”

Provide chain woes and allegations of labor abuse are making it more and more troublesome to deploy photo voltaic vitality throughout the US

Since 2012, Microsoft has technically bought sufficient clear vitality to match its electrical energy use. However that doesn’t imply that the corporate’s operations are literally working on renewables on a regular basis. There simply isn’t sufficient photo voltaic and wind related to energy grids but, with renewables making up solely 20 percent of the US electrical energy combine.

Microsoft makes “energy buy agreements” with vitality suppliers to spur the event of recent photo voltaic and wind initiatives. The goal is that, by the top of the last decade, Microsoft will have the ability to get its complete vitality provide “from zero carbon sources on grids the place we function.”

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To make issues tougher, the photo voltaic business is dealing with main provide chain kinks — particularly within the US. Photo voltaic manufacturing is concentrated in China, which provides about 80 % of the world’s photo voltaic panels. That focus makes the photo voltaic provide chain extra susceptible to bottlenecks, and a serious one recently has been accusations of forced labor in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Area. The US blocked greater than 1,000 shipments of photo voltaic vitality components between June and October final 12 months after banning imports from Xinjiang, Reuters reports. These commerce limitations have significantly slowed solar installations within the US.

Microsoft seems to be attempting to bypass that bottleneck by partnering with South Korea-based Qcells. Earlier this month, Qcells announced that it might spend greater than $2.5 billion to construct up a “full photo voltaic provide chain … from uncooked materials to completed panels” within the US. It plans to construct a brand new manufacturing facility in Georgia, the place it additionally operates what it says is the Western Hemisphere’s largest photo voltaic panel manufacturing plant.

“As one of many world’s largest purchasers of renewable vitality, this work will assist deliver extra photo voltaic vitality to the grid, sooner,” Microsoft vice chair and president Brad Smith stated in a press launch yesterday.

Microsoft may definitely use extra clear vitality on the grid because it struggles to chop down on its local weather air pollution. The corporate’s greenhouse fuel emissions truly rose by about 2.5 million metric tons in fiscal 12 months 2021 in comparison with the 12 months earlier than with a rise in system gross sales and cloud companies, according to its latest sustainability report.

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