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As regular readers of this blog know, Microsoft’s adoption of our carbon neutrality commitment and the creation of an internal carbon fee are helping drive an increase in our purchase of renewable energy and carbon offsets. Earlier this year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recognized us for our leadership in purchasing nearly 1.9 billion kWh of green power. In addition to our green power purchases, we seek to drive research breakthroughs that will enable us and others in our industry to increase our use of renewable energy. We and our business partners are also working with an increasing number of customers in the renewable energy space to use the power of cloud computing to help them grow their business.
As anyone who has been through an earthquake or a hurricane can tell you, natural disasters can cause significant destruction. That’s one reason why improvements in predictive technologies, which can be used to improve forecasts of weather and other natural events, have promised to dramatically improve people’s lives. In Lesvos, a picturesque Greek island situated in the Aegean Sea, researchers are using Microsoft technology to determine the daily wildfire risk during the driest months. The technology is helping firefighters coordinate more effective responses to fires, which shows how technology can be used to better protect the environment at a local level.
At Microsoft we’re firm believers in the power of technology to address sustainability challenges, whether that’s by making cities smarter or enhancing efforts in energy efficiency. Smart cities were front and center in SmartPlanet, which cited a report that the collective ‘smart city industry’ could be poised for threefold growth by decade’s end. Meanwhile, the New York Times Green Blog asked how the Obama Administration will tackle climate change in the next four years by covering a guide released by the World Resources Institute.
Some of the greatest obstacles to widespread growth of renewable energy have to do with intermittency and impacts on wildlife. But new approaches to IT are beginning to address those challenges, like the ability to forecasting wind power that lets utilities reduce their dependency on backup power plants. In another project, Big Data is helping reduce the impacts of wind turbines on wildlife. Read on to learn more about how IT is having a positive impact on sustainable energy and the environment.