Why corporations like Microsoft are investing in wind energy

Microsoft joins the growing ranks of firms – including Walmart, Google and Ikea – that are investing in wind energy.

In a move that underlines the growing appeal of corporate investment in renewable energy, Microsoft announced Monday that it will power one of its data centers with electricity from a Texas wind farm.

The software giant has agreed to buy all of the output from the 110MW wind farm for 20 years. The project, to be built by RES Americas, will send electricity into a local grid that serves a Microsoft data center in San Antonio. Construction is set to start next year and be completed in 2015.

For businesses that want to cut their carbon emissions, renewable energy might sound like a natural choice. But for years, the more popular option has been for businesses to buy renewable-energy credits associated with renewable-energy-generation projects rather than investing in those projects directly. Buying credits seems easier: it doesn’t require a business to sign long-term power contracts or commit the hefty capital