Banks Failing to Respond to Climate Risks, New Reports Find

TOKYO, June 22, 2017 — A report released today by four NGOs – Rainforest Action Network, BankTrack, Sierra Club and Oil Change International – revealed that the world’s biggest banks, including Japan’s three megabanks, are failing to respond to climate risks through their continued financing of extreme fossil fuels. Continue reading “Banks Failing to Respond to Climate Risks, New Reports Find”

Shale giant looms over National Trust parkland

By Jon Ungoed-Thomas, February 5 2017: One of the world’s biggest manufacturers of chemical and oil products has threatened the National Trust with legal action to force it to allow exploration for shale gas on its land.

Ineos Shale, part of the Ineos Group, which is headed by the billionaire Jim Ratcliffe, is the country’s leading shale gas company. It has government licences that give it access to about 1m acres of potential shale gas reserves.

These includes National Trust land at Clumber Park, near Worksop in Nottinghamshire.

However, the trust has refused access to the historic country park for seismic surveys, arguing that it has “a presumption against fracking on our land” and will not allow access for exploration.

An investigation by Greenpeace into fracking has established that Ineos Shale has threatened the trust with compulsory access to the land under the Mines (Working Facilities and Support) Act 1966.

Tom Pickering, operations director of Ineos Shale, which is based in London, confirmed last week that the company had warned the trust that it could use the act, but said he hoped negotiations would continue.

He said: “If we cannot achieve access by negotiation, then the provisions under this act are available to us and we would pursue them.”

Ineos would require ministerial approval as well as a court order to gain access to the popular park, which consists of 3,800 acres of scenic woodland heath and pasture and boasts a walled garden and the longest double avenue of lime trees in Europe.

The potential legal battle could prove an important test case for the trust’s position on fracking.

Richard Hebditch, the trust’s external affairs director, said the Ineos request for a seismic survey for shale gas was the first on trust land. He said the trust was standing by its decision to turn down the application. He said: “The trust is opposed to fracking on its land and will reject any fracking requests or inquiries.”

One of the main reasons the trust opposes fracking is the fact that it contributes to carbon emissions. However, Ineos argues that gas releases about half the carbon emissions of coal when burnt and claims it can play a key role in helping Britain move towards a greener energy policy.

Ineos has been accused of using “bullying” tactics to gain access to land for surveys. Documents obtained by Greenpeace under freedom of information legislation reveal that the British Geological Society claimed Ineos was using the society’s name without authorisation to persuade landowners to allow it onto their properties.

Ineos said it had investigated and there was no evidence of any bullying tactics or misleading information being given.

Source: Sun Times * http://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/shale-giant-looms-over-national-trust-parkland-3pf6j795g

Renewables: Europe on track to reach its 20% target by 2020

Brussels, 1 February 2017: EU Renewable energy progress report just published

How is Europe performing in renewable energy?

Having achieved a share of 16% renewables in its final energy consumption in 2014 and an estimated share of close to 16.4% in 2015, the EU as a whole is well on track to reach its 20% target by 2020. However, Member States will have to keep up their efforts in order to reach their national goals.

Europe as a whole is performing well in its deployment of renewables. In 2011, renewables generated 21.7% of the EU’s electricity; three years later, this figure has reached 27.5%, and it is expected to climb to 50% by 2030. The EU’s initial efforts in promoting the use of renewables facilitated this continued growth which resulted in lowered renewable costs: the prices of photovoltaic modules fell by 80% between the end of 2009 and the end of 2015. Renewables have now become cost-competitive, and sometimes even cheaper than fossil fuels.

The renewable energy sector plays a key role for the EU economy with a turnover of around €144bn in 2014 and more than one million people employed.

European investments have dropped by more than half since 2011 to €44bn last year, while global investments in renewable energy continue to increase to above €260bn.

Why are renewables a key component of the Energy Union strategy and of EU leadership?

The Renewable Energy Directive[1] has been and will continue to be a central element of the Energy Union policy and a key driver for providing clean energy for all Europeans, with the aim of making the EU world number one in renewables – and it is relevant to all five dimensions of the Energy Union.

  1. Renewables have played a major role in energy security. Their estimated contribution to fossil fuel import savings in 2015 was €16bn and it is projected to be €58bn in 2030.[2]
  2. Thanks to fast decreasing costs, renewables can gradually be integrated into the market. The recast of the Renewables Directive together with the Market Design proposals[3] will further enable the participation of renewables on an equal footing to other energy sources.
  3. Renewables go hand in hand with energy efficiency. In the electricity sector, fuel switching from combustible fossil fuels to non-combustible renewables could reduce primary energy consumption.[4] In the building sector, renewables solutions can improve the energy performance of buildings in a cost-effective way.
  4. Renewables are one of the pillars of decarbonisation. In 2015, renewables contributed to reducing EU greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 436 MtCO2eq, the equivalent of the emissions of Italy.[5]
  5. Renewables play a major role in making the EU a global leader in innovation. With EU countries holding 30% of patents in renewables globally, the EU has been a pioneer in this field and is committed to prioritising research and innovation to further drive the energy transition.

What is the role of renewables in reaching the Paris climate goals?

At the 2015 Climate Change Conference in Paris, Europe committed itself to contributing to limiting the global rise in temperature to only 1.5°. Renewables, together with energy efficiency, are key to reaching this goal.

Will Europe reach its binding target of at least 27% renewables by 2030?

The Clean Energy for All Europeans package, presented by the Commission last November, contains the main provisions to enable Member States to collectively reach the target of at least 27% renewable energy by 2030. This will be made possible through coordinated action in renewables, energy efficiency, and market design, and ensured through a strong governance process.

Do Member States’ performances differ significantly?

In 2009, the Renewable energy directive (2009/28/EU) defined renewable energy and renewable transport targets, as well the pathway that each Member State should follow to reach them.[6]

In 2014 all EU countries except one[7] showed a renewable energy share which was equal to or higher than their indicative pathway. In 2015, 25 Member States exceeded their indicative pathways, with some even surpassing their 2020 targets.

Can interconnections bridge these differences?

Interconnections can facilitate power exchange between Member States, thus reducing congestion and making renewables more profitable in certain areas. With targets of 10% of installed electricity production capacity by 2020 and 15% by 2030, interconnections will not only facilitate power exchange and improve price signals but also reinforce security of supply and guarantee a European approach to renewable power.

Can we say that the European economy is growing thanks to renewables?

With a turnover of around €144bn in 2014, the renewables industry is indeed a major contributor to the EU economy.

In terms of job creation, renewables also have an added value since renewable energy creates more jobs per unit of energy generated than, for example, fossil fuels.

Moreover, renewables are local: the renewable economy depends very little on imported fuels and material, and therefore the added value is kept at EU level and results in contributions to economic growth.

Is Europe spending or saving thanks to renewables deployment?

Renewable energy should be seen as an investment, rather than an expense.

At a micro level, renewables reimburse the upfront costs of installation with operation and maintenance expenditure that is usually substantially lower than that of fossil alternatives. Moreover, once the technology has been installed, renewables such as wind and solar remain available virtually free of charge.

At a macro, EU level, renewables reduced the EU’s energy import bill by around €16bn in 2015: this could grow to around €58bn by 2030. As in the area of energy efficiency, renewables are therefore a profitable long-term investment that will bring future benefits and independence.

Have renewables made a difference to consumers’ bills?

Renewables have lowered European costs at a wholesale level, but benefits for consumersare yet to come:

  • At a wholesale level, the more we use renewables, the cheaper electricity will become. Every percentage increase in renewables’ share of the market will decrease the market price by €0.4 per megawatt-hour[8].
  • At a domestic level, the share of EU taxes and levies used to support renewable energy and combined heat and power has steadily increased. The share of renewables and combined heat and power support costs ranged from 0% to 23% of the retail electricity price in 2015, depending on the Member State.

How do renewables empower consumers to become active market participants?

Consumers are the drivers of energy transition. The distributed nature of renewables, the increasingly competitive costs of renewable technologies, and new developments in smart grids, smart homes, and battery storage solutions make it possible for energy consumers – both at a domestic and an industrial level – to become active players on the market:

  • In Germany, a typical four-person family household can save almost €680 each year on its annual electricity costs by installing a 4 kWp PV system;
  • In Italy, an average household can save about €720 per year on its electricity bill, with a pay-back period of about 7-9 years, depending on the region;[9]
  • Small- and medium-sized enterprises can also benefit from renewables. For example, an Italian food-processing company installed a rooftop solar panel on its production facility and used 89% of the solar panel electricity produced on site (this is known as the self-consumption rate). This resulted in an annual electricity bill saving of about 35% and an annual reduction in CO2 emissions of over 200 tons.[10]

How will further clean energy transition take place?

The “Clean Energy for All Europeans” package includes provisions to support the energy transition towards higher shares of renewables, especially in the buildings, transport and industry sectors. To this extent, it identifies several key areas for action:

  1. Strengthening the regulatory certainty for investments by further “Europeanising” renewables policy. This will further encourage deployment of renewables in particular in the Electricity sector;
  2. Mainstreaming renewables in the Heating and Cooling sector;
  3. Decarbonising and diversifying the Transport sector;
  4. Empowering and informing consumers;
  5. Strengthening the EU sustainability criteria for bioenergy;
  6. Making sure that the EU level binding target is achieved on time and in a cost-effective way.

Who will pay for it?

While global investments in renewable energy continue to increase to above €260bn, European investments have dropped by more than half since 2011 to €44bn last year. Today, the EU accounts for only 18%[11] of total global investment in renewables, down from close to 50% only six years ago.

New sources of investments need to be unlocked to reach the €379bn of investment needed on an annual basis to achieve the EU’s climate and energy targets:

  • Currently, 25% of the €154bn allocated under the European Fund for Strategic Investments is linked to energy where renewable energy is among the priorities; furthermore, €27bn per year is devoted to public and private research and development and innovation in Energy Union-related areas, to support concrete industrial and economic opportunities.
  • The European Fund for Strategic Investments will be strengthened and expanded to the end of 2020, thereby increasing the total investment target from €314bn to at least €500bn. New, innovative funding mechanisms under the EFSI and the Connecting Europe Facility will help to achieve this.

What’s the link between the Energy Union strategy and the recently adopted ‘Clean Energy Package’?

In the Energy Union Strategic Framework[12], the European Union commits itself to become the world leader in renewable energy, and the global hub for developing the next generation of technically advanced and competitive renewable energies. The EU has also set a target that at least 27% of the energy consumed in the EU in 2030 should be from renewable sources.

The ‘Clean Energy Package’ presents regulatory proposals and facilitating measures that aim to achieve these objectives, and at the same time accelerate, transform and consolidate the EU economy’s clean energy transition, thereby creating jobs and growth in new economic sectors and business models.

In addition to the legislative proposal on renewable energy, the package also includes proposals on energy efficiency, the design of the electricity market, security of supply and governance rules for the Energy Union that will help facilitate the Energy Union strategic framework.

The facilitating actions include initiatives to accelerate clean energy innovation and to renovate Europe’s buildings, as well as measures to encourage public and private investment and make the most of the available EU budget; to promote industry-led initiatives to foster competitiveness; to mitigate the social impact of the clean energy transition; to involve multiple players including Member State authorities and local and city authorities as well as businesses, social partners and investors; and to maximise Europe’s leadership in clean energy technology and services to help third countries achieve their policy goals.

What benefits can increased use of renewables bring to

…consumers? Solar and wind technology prices have declined by 80% and 30-40% respectively between 2009 and 2015.[13] This cost reduction is increasingly enabling consumers to produce their own renewable energy. With the revised directive, consumers will benefit from greater rights to:

  1. produce their own electricity, and feed any excess back to the grid;
  2. organise themselves into renewable energy communities to generate, consume, store and sell renewable energy;
  3. stop buying heat/cold from a district heating/cooling system if they can achieve significantly better energy performances themselves.

…the environment? The revised renewable energy directive will help fight climate change by reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Reaching at least 27% renewables will help reduce GHG emissions to meet our target of at least 40% GHG reduction by 2030. Together with energy efficiency, the EU Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) and other climate change mitigation policies, renewables could help the EU reduce its carbon intensity by up to one third between 2020 and 2030.[14]

Furthermore, the revised directive contains a set of reinforced sustainability criteria for bioenergy, with the view to maximising climate and environmental benefits and avoiding the risk of biomass production resulting in deforestation or forest degradation.

…industry? The clearer legal framework provided by the new directive willremove uncertainties for investors, reduce administrative burdens, and decrease costs. This will bring benefits for both producers and investors: renewable energy technology suppliers will keep a leadership role, and the costs of renewables supply chains will be lowered.

…jobs? The new directive focuses on creating the right conditions for renewables to thrive and make the EU a flourishing market for clean energy. The sector already employs more than one million people and accounts for €144bn revenue every year.

Implementing our Energy Union policies could bring up to 900 000 net additional jobs in the EU economy by 2030 compared to the reference scenario.[15]

…energy security? In 2014, the deployment of renewable energy cut around €20bn worth of fossil fuel imports. Thanks to renewables, Europe could save around €58bn per year by 2030 in terms of avoided fossil fuel imports.[16] This is the equivalent to the current Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Luxembourg.

What’s coming next?

Until 2020, EU Member States will have to continue to maintain or increase their renewable energy shares to ensure that they achieve their national renewable energy targets for 2020.

In line with the Joint Declaration setting out the EU’s objectives and priorities for the legislative process in 2017, the Energy Union-related legislative proposals presented by the Commission such as those included in the Clean Energy for All Europeans package should be addressed this year as a priority by the European Parliament and Council.

 

Overview of Member States’ progress towards 2020 targets in renewable energy (%)

Member State RES Share
2013
Average RES Share 2013/2014 RED indicative trajectory (2013/2014) RES Share 2014 RES Share 2015 (proxy) RED indicative trajectory (2015/2016)
  %
AT 32,3% 32,7% 26,5% 33,1% 33,6% 28,1%
BE 7,5% 7,8% 5,4% 8,0% 7,3% 7,1%
BG 19,0% 18,5% 11,4% 18,0% 18,4% 12,4%
CY 8,1% 8,5% 5,9% 9,0% 9,1% 7,4%
CZ 12,4% 12,9% 8,2% 13,4% 13,6% 9,2%
DE 12,4% 13,1% 9,5% 13,8% 14,5% 11,3%
DK 27,3% 28,2% 20,9% 29,2% 30,6% 22,9%
EE 25,6% 26,0% 20,1% 26,5% 27,9% 21,2%
EL 15,0% 15,2% 10,2% 15,3% 15,5% 11,9%
ES 15,3% 15,8% 12,1% 16,2% 15,6% 13,8%
FR 14,0% 14,2% 14,1% 14,3% 14,5% 16,0%
FI 36,7% 37,7% 31,4% 38,7% 39,5% 32,8%
HR 28,1% 28,0% 14,8% 27,9% 27,5% 15,9%
HU 9,5% 9,5% 6,9% 9,5% 9,4% 8,2%
IE 7,7% 8,2% 7,0% 8,6% 9,0% 8,9%
IT 16,7% 16,9% 8,7% 17,1% 17,1% 10,5%
LT 23,0% 23,4% 17,4% 23,9% 24,3% 18,6%
LU 3,6% 4,1% 3,9% 4,5% 5,0% 5,4%
LV 37,1% 37,9% 34,8% 38,7% 39,2% 35,9%
MT 3,7% 4,2% 3,0% 4,7% 5,3% 4,5%
NL 4,8% 5,2% 5,9% 5,5% 6,0% 7,6%
PL 11,3% 11,4% 9,5% 11,4% 11,8% 10,7%
PT 25,7% 26,3% 23,7% 27,0% 27,8% 25,2%
RO 23,9% 24,4% 19,7% 24,9% 24,7% 20,6%
SE 52,0% 52,3% 42,6% 52,6% 54,1% 43,9%
SI 22,5% 22,2% 18,7% 21,9% 21,8% 20,1%
SK 10,1% 10,9% 8,9% 11,6% 11,9% 10,0%
UK 5,6% 6,3% 5,4% 7,0% 8,2% 7,5%
EU-28 15,0% 15,5% 12,1% 16,0% 16,4% 13,8%

Source: Directive 2009/28/EC; Eurostat SHARES 2014; EEA RES proxy (2015); PRIMES (2020, 2025, 2030)

 

For further information:

IP/17/161

MEMO/17/162 on Progress Energy Efficiency

 

 

[1]Directive 2009/28/EC on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources, OJ L 140, 5.6.2009.

[2] Compared with 2005 baseline, EC Renewable Energy Progress Report

[3] As part of the “Clean Energy for All Europeans” package, issued on 30 November 2016.

[4] Assuming a Primary Energy Factor of 2.5, 1 unit of renewable could replace 2.5 units of fossil electricity.

[5] Compared with 2005 baseline. Source:EEA

[6] Under its Annex I

[7]The Netherlands – it has informed the Commission on the adoption of new measures to regain its trajectory and ensure compliance with its target.

[8] SWD (2016) 420. Energy prices and costs in Europe.

[9] SWD (2015) 141. Best practices on renewable energy self-consumption.

[10] SWD (2015) 141. Best practices on renewable energy self-consumption.

[11] Frankfurter School-UNEP Centre/BNEF, 2016. Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investments 2016, http://www.fs-unep-centre.org.

[12] COM (2015) 80. Energy Union Package.

[13] IRENA (2016). The Power to Change: Solar and Wind Cost Reduction Potential to 2025.

[14] Based on PRIMES EUCO30 scenario, carbon intensity of GDP (t of CO2/M€13).

[15] Where 2030 targets would not be met

[16]Compared with 2005 baseline, interim renewable energy progress report, [to be published]

MEMO/17/163

Press contacts:

General public inquiries: Europe Direct by phone 00 800 67 89 10 11 or by email

Trump’s orders spell winds of change for automakers to renewable energy

It’s been just 11 days since Donald Trump was inaugurated in the US and so far the new president seems set on solidifying the promises he made during his campaign, including some that would impact climate and energy.

The 1,000-mile long wall that Trump intends to build between the US and Mexico would release as much as 1.9m tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere if it were to be built out of concrete, according to an estimate from Columbia University. Trump signed an executive order last Wednesday to direct the construction of such a wall and to boost the number of patrol forces along it.

Meanwhile, another executive order signed over the weekend to halt immigration from seven Middle Eastern countries could have an impact on companies from General Electric to General Motors – both of which employ immigrants from the nations affected. “We have many employees from the named countries and we do business all over the region,” said Jeff Immelt, CEO of GE, in an internal email. GE is one of the world’s leading wind turbine manufacturers and in 2015 almost 14% of its revenue came from the Middle East and Africa, according to Bloomberg data. GM, maker of the all-electric Chevrolet Bolt and Volt plug-in hybrid, has vast manufacturing operations in Michigan – a state with a substantial Muslim population.

Trump is also likely to follow through on his intention to pull the US out of the landmark climate pact signed by more than 190 nations in Paris in December 2015, according to Myron Ebell, who headed Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency transition team. “President Trump made it clear he would withdraw from the deal,” Ebell said during a press conference in London yesterday. As the world’s richest nation and second largest polluter, US participation in the accord is fundamental to limiting global warming, say climate researchers.

One area that might survive Trump’s protectionist stance is the gas export market between the US and Mexico, according to asset manager ING Groep and Pira Energy Group. Pipeline deliveries of natural gas from the US to Mexico have more than doubled in the past two years, in response to declining oil and gas production in the latter and a supply glut in the former. The market supports jobs in the US and provides Mexico with cheap fuel and so may avert any interventionist measures, say the companies.

In California, large battery storage plants are moving in on the traditional role of natural gas to provide electricity to the grid during peak hours of demand. Three large plants – built by Tesla Motors, AES and Altagas – will go live in southern California this week in order to fill the power glut caused by the natural gas leak at Aliso Canyon in Los Angeles, which was subsequently shut down. The leak emitted 109,000 tonnes of methane into the atmosphere and led to the displacement of thousands of local residents. The battery storage projects have all been completed within six months and will alleviate the risk of winter blackouts.

On the US east coast, the country’s largest offshore wind farm received approval last week, a key milestone on the way to its deployment in waters off Long Island. The 90MW project will generate enough electricity to power 50, 000 homes and is the first step towards New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s goal to develop 2.4GW of offshore wind by 2030.

In Europe, the offshore wind industry will install more than 3.5GW of capacity this year, according to a forecast by the WindEurope industry group. Germany and the UK will be market leaders – installing more than 1.6GW each, while Belgium will add 165MW and Denmark 23MW. This will add to the continent’s current capacity of 12.6GW of offshore wind.

The market for offshore wind in Polish waters and elsewhere in the Baltic Sea also looks promising, according to a BNEF Research Note that sees a current unfinanced pipeline of as much as 2.5GW. The Baltic region has so far been behind in developing offshore wind due to a lack of supportive policy, low power prices and a ready supply of hydro-electric and nuclear power. Nevertheless, Poland has an auction on the cards for 2017 and at least 200MW of capacity could be commissioned in the country by 2022, the note says.

Taiwan’s market for offshore wind is also heating up following news last week that Dong Energy and Macquarie Capital had both bought stakes in the country’s first commercial-scale offshore project – the 128MW Formosa I wind farm. Macquarie now owns half the project, Dong Energy holds 35% and the initial developer — Swancor Renewable – holds the remainder. Formosa I is expected to be fully built in 2019, subject to a final investment decision.

India’s solar installations to escalate from 2017 onwards (GW of capacity)

India's solar installations to escalate from 2017 onwards (GW of capacity)
Source: Bloomberg New Energy FinanceIndia added 3.85GW of grid-connected solar generation capacity in the first 10 months of 2016 — almost double total installations in 2015. BNEF has revised its projections for subsequent years based on the amount of capacity auctioned in 2016 and anticipated installations in the future. States will be under increasing pressure to meet the renewable purchase obligation targets set out at federal level, which require 6.75% of total electricity consumption across all states to come from solar-powered generation by the end of 2019.

4th International Conference on Energy & Meteorology (ICEM)

WEMC_logo_100

The 4th ICEM will take place from 27-29 June 2017 in Bari, Italy.

It offers a unique chance for the energy industry and the meteorological sector to connect, exchange knowledge, and work together. At ICEM 2017, through targeted workshops, panel discussions with international experts, and brainstorming sessions, you will be able to plant the seeds for new business opportunities and interact with an international community of energy specialists, economists, scientists, and policymakers working at the thriving nexus of energy with weather and climate. ICEM 2017 will provide a premium international platform with excellent networking opportunities as well as a source of the state-of-the-art in the science, policy, planning and operations in energy and meteorology.

The World Energy & Meteorology Council (WEMC) is a non-profit organisation devoted to promoting and enhancing the interaction between the energy industry and the weather, climate and broader environmental sciences community. The primary goal is to enable improved sustainability, resilience and efficiency of energy systems under ever changing weather and climate for the greatest benefit of all people. Working together with a large number of stakeholders, WEMC organizes and implements recommendations from the International Conferences on Energy and Meteorology.

For further details of ICEM 2017, visit: www.wemcouncil.org/wp/icem2017/

Microsoft announces largest wind energy purchase to date

Nov. 14, 2016 — On Monday, Microsoft Corp. announced its largest purchase of wind energy to date with the signing of two agreements. Combined, these agreements represent 237 megawatts of wind energy, which brings Microsoft’s total investment in wind energy projects in the U.S. to more than 500 megawatts.

“Microsoft is committed to building a responsible cloud, and these agreements represent progress toward our goal of improving the energy mix at our datacenters,” said Brad Smith, president and chief legal officer at Microsoft. “Our commitment extends beyond greening our own operations because these projects help create a greener, more reliable grid in the communities in which we operate.”

Microsoft has contracted with Allianz Risk Transfer (ART) to fix its long-term energy costs and purchase the environmental attributes connected with the new, 178-megawatt Bloom Wind project in Kansas. The project is the first to use a novel structure developed by ART and designed to offset high upfront costs associated with the creation of large-scale wind projects. Microsoft is the first buyer to participate in this structure, which has the potential to bring clean energy projects online at a faster pace.

“It is important for investors in renewable energy projects to secure long-term, stable revenues, and our structure does just that,” said Karsten Berlage, managing director of ART. “We are thrilled to be partnering with Microsoft on this groundbreaking project.”

In addition, Microsoft has contracted with Black Hills Corp. subsidiary Black Hills Energy, under a long-term agreement, to purchase 59 megawatts of renewable energy certificates from the Happy Jack and Silver Sage wind projects, which are adjacent to Microsoft’s Cheyenne, Wyoming, datacenter. The combined output of the Bloom and Happy Jack/Silver Sage projects will produce enough energy on an annual basis to cover the annual energy used at the datacenter.

“Our longstanding partnership with Microsoft productively led to this landmark collaboration. This collaboration provided them the opportunity to utilize significantly more renewable energy while still ensuring the reliability they’ve come to expect through our energy infrastructure and generation resources,” said David R. Emery, chairman and CEO of Black Hills Corp. “We are proud to be a strong supporter and partner in their mission to power their datacenters with increased renewable energy resources, and look forward to our continued collaboration in the years ahead.”

Microsoft and Black Hills Energy also worked together to create a new tariff, available to all eligible customers, that allows the utility to tap the local datacenter’s backup generators, thereby eliminating the need for Black Hills Energy to construct a new power plant. The tariff received approval from the Wyoming Public Service Commission in July.

“We are constantly looking for new ways to approach energy challenges and avenues of engagement with our utility partners,” said Christian Belady, general manager of cloud infrastructure strategy and architecture at Microsoft. “The team worked closely with ART to come up with a completely new model to enable faster adoption of renewables. Likewise, the tight engagement with Black Hills created the opportunity for Microsoft’s datacenter to become an asset for the local grid, maintaining reliability and reducing costs for ratepayers. This kind of deep collaboration with utilities has great potential to accelerate the pace of clean energy, benefitting all customers — not just Microsoft.”

These are Microsoft’s third and fourth wind energy agreements, joining the 175-megawatt Pilot Hill wind project in Illinois and 110-megawatt Keechi wind project in Texas. In March, Microsoft also signed an agreement with the Commonwealth of Virginia and Dominion Energy Inc. to bring 20 megawatts of solar energy onto the grid in Virginia. These projects are in addition to the renewable and carbon-free energy Microsoft purchases from the grid mix in the markets in which it operates.

More information about this announcement is in the Microsoft on the Issues blog post by Microsoft President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith.

About Allianz Risk Transfer

Allianz Risk Transfer (ART) is the center of competence for alternative risk transfer business within the Allianz Group offering tailor-made insurance, reinsurance and other non-traditional risk management solutions to industrial and financial clients worldwide. Founded in June 1997, the company is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty SE. ART operates through affiliated companies with offices in Amsterdam, Bermuda, Dubai, Liechtenstein, London, New York and Zurich. Its client base spans across all industry sectors and its solutions are most effective for clients facing unusual or complex risks, where traditional (re)insurance or financial products are inadequate. As of today, ART AG is rated AA- by Standard & Poor’s and A+ by A.M. Best. www.art.allianz.com

About Black Hills Corp.

Black Hills Corp. (NYSE: BKH) is a customer-focused, growth-oriented utility company with a tradition of improving life with energy and a vision to be the energy partner of choice. Based in Rapid City, South Dakota, the company serves 1.2 million natural gas and electric utility customers in eight states: Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming. The company also generates wholesale electricity and produces natural gas, oil and coal. More information is available at www.blackhillscorp.com.

About Microsoft

Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT” @microsoft) is the leading platform and productivity company for the mobile-first, cloud-first world, and its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. 

Note to editors: For more information, news and perspectives from Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft News Center at http://news.microsoft.com. Web links, telephone numbers and titles were correct at time of publication, but may have changed. For additional assistance, journalists and analysts may contact Microsoft’s Rapid Response Team or other appropriate contacts listed at http://news.microsoft.com/microsoft-public-relations-contacts.