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Business deals

Microsoft seals first Asian renewable energy deal in Singapore

Solar project will boost the US company's clean portfolio to 860MW

Microsoft is snapping up renewable energy assets around the globe.   © Reuters

SINGAPORE -- Microsoft has struck a deal with Singapore's Sunseap to create the city-state's "single largest" solar energy portfolio, with a focus on powering data centers.

The agreement marks the U.S. tech company's first renewable energy deal in Asia and third worldwide. Microsoft announced two wind deals, in Ireland and the Netherlands, in 2017.

The portfolio, with peak output of 60 megawatts, would be "enough to power over 90,000 Singaporean homes for an hour," a spokesperson said. Under a 20-year agreement, Microsoft will purchase 100% of the renewable energy sent to the grid. No monetary figures have been disclosed.

"We're on track to exceed our goal of powering 50% of our global data load with renewable energy this year," said Christian Belady, general manager of cloud infrastructure strategy and architecture at Microsoft. Once the new solar project is operational, Belady said, it will help to "bring Microsoft's total global direct procurement in renewable energy projects to 860MW."

To counter global warming, Singapore has been stepping up its environmental game. In a budget speech last month, the government announced a decision to impose a tax on carbon emissions in 2019. This will cost companies 5 Singapore dollars ($3.81) per ton of greenhouse gas emissions.

The carbon tax gives businesses an extra incentive to adopt more sustainable practices.

"We are seeing a distinctive trend of local and foreign companies using up to 100% renewable energy to power their business operations," said Gian Yi-Hsen, executive director of Cleantech at the Singapore Economic Development Board.

She added that the agreement between Microsoft and Sunseap, a solar energy provider, could "help [to] proliferate adoption of clean energy, and spur further innovation in new business models and technologies."

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