Microsoft Canada is to procure Clean Energy Credits (CECs) sourced from Ontario Power Generation's (OPG) carbon-free hydro and nuclear assets as part of Microsoft's efforts to power its datacentres with carbon-free energy. The CEC purchase agreement is a "first" for both companies.

Microsoft and OPG announced the agreement on 26 September. From left: Ontario Minister of Energy Todd Smith, Microsoft Canada President Chris Barry, OPG Vice President of Energy Markets Kim Lauritsen and OPG President and CEO Ken Hartwick (Image: Miguel Hortiguela/For The Canadian Press Images)

The strategic partnership, which is aimed at tackling climate change and driving sustainable growth across Ontario, will see the two companies work together on a series of initiatives focused on delivering innovative clean energy solutions and digital skilling programmes.

Microsoft will procure CECs sourced from OPG's carbon-free assets in Ontario on an hourly basis. The company has committed that by 2030 it will have 100% of the energy consumption of its data centres, 100% of the time. globally matched by zero carbon energy purchases - its 100/100/0 by 2030 goal.

The partners are also to collaborate on initiatives including the development of an hourly energy-matching platform using Microsoft's Azure IoT (Internet of Things) and artificial intelligence technology to match customer power needs with local carbon-free energy sources, giving customers greater transparency and accuracy on their emissions impact. OPG has chosen Azure as its cloud platform to modernise applications, IT infrastructure and services: migrating to the cloud will also help the company reduce its carbon footprint.

The partners are also to explore digital co-innovation opportunities to accelerate OPG's small modular reactor (SMR) programme, with a goal of developing a service that other global energy providers can leverage in the future to deploy SMRs locally to fast-track clean energy solutions. They are also, under a separate memorandum of understanding, to evaluate procurement of CECs associated with the carbon-free energy from the SMR which OPG plans to build at the Darlington New Nuclear Project site.

"This innovative partnership will not only spur economic development in Ontario, but also serve as a model for other companies and jurisdictions to encourage use of clean hydro and nuclear power," OPG President and CEO Ken Hartwick said, adding that OPG has committed to achieving net zero as a company by 2040, and to act as a catalyst for efficient economy-wide decarbonisation. "Ensuring industry has access to clean energy to offset emissions assists in meeting that goal," he said.

"We can only address climate change by tackling the challenge collectively," Microsoft Canada President Chris Barry said. "Working closely with like-minded organizations like OPG, will help us move toward a more sustainable future, while continuing to power innovation in Ontario."

Earlier this year, US utility Constellation announced a collaboration with Microsoft on the development of an energy-matching technology to match customer power needs with local carbon-free energy sources. As part of that agreement, Microsoft is to purchase a portion of its clean energy supply from Constellation - the USA's largest producer of carbon-free energy with the country's largest nuclear fleet - over five years. That agreement also included plans for the partners to work together to advance clean energy technology, including migration to Microsoft's Azure cloud platform.

OPG's 18,153 MW of in-service generation capacity includes 4,850 MW from its two nuclear plants at Darlington and Pickering which the company says supply about 30% of Ontario's electricity.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News

Date: Wednesday, 28 September 2022
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