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Solar energy is taking off in Japan. In fact, last year nearly 3 GW of photovoltaics were installed across the country. The country’s tight power supply and demand situation—the vast majority of nuclear generation was taken offline following the Fukushima disaster—has made managing energy generation a very important issue. That’s one reason why the town of Nichinan in Hino-gun, Tottori Prefecture, has turned to the Windows Azure cloud service as part of the energy management system for its new solar power station.
Since the Fukushima disaster in 2011, Japan has doubled down on efforts to expand the country’s renewable energy production. Before the earthquake and tsunami critically damaged the nuclear power plant at Fukushima, Japan received as much as 30 percent of its energy from nuclear power and planned to expand nuclear generation to 50 percent of the country’s energy needs.
Thousands of teams from more than 70 countries around the world competed in the Imagine Cup National Finals this year, and earlier this month, 34 of those teams traveled to Seattle to compete in the Imagine Cup World Finals. Imagine Cup is an exciting, vibrant event that challenges students to use Microsoft technology to develop innovative solutions. The year-long contest gives students the opportunity to compete in three categories – Games, Innovation and World Citizenship – for a spot at the World Finals, this year held in Seattle, Washington. As part of the World Citizenship category, we saw some really interesting projects that addressed environmental sustainability issues, in particular electricity consumption.
At Microsoft, one of the ways in which employees can contribute directly to reducing the company’s environmental footprint is through their daily commute. We continue to find ways to encourage employees to get to work in a more sustainable way. One of the ways we help reduce the number of vehicles on the road is by providing employees access to programs like The Connector, a free Puget Sound bus service that is available to all fulltime Microsoft employees.