US-headquartered First Solar, Inc. (FSLR ) today announced that its Sun Streams 2 photovoltaic (PV) solar plant will power new energy-efficient datacenters being built by Microsoft Corp. in Goodyear and El Mirage, Arizona. The 150-megawatt (MW)AC facility, is being developed and constructed by First Solar in Maricopa County and will power the data centers under a 20-year agreement.
The power plant will use First Solar’s proprietary Series 6 module technology which has a carbon footprint that is up to six times lower than conventionally-manufactured crystalline silicon PV panels, giving it a superior environmental profile and allowing Sun Streams 2 to deliver cleaner solar electricity. First Solar, which is headquartered in Tempe, Arizona, is expanding its manufacturing capacity to meet the demand for Series 6 modules, with its second facility in the United States – representing nearly $1 billion in cumulative investment – expected to start production in early-2020. Once the Perrysburg, Ohio facility is operational, First Solar will be the western hemisphere’s, and America’s, largest solar module manufacturer.
“First Solar’s high-tech factories, which are some of the most sophisticated and sustainable facilities of their type in the world, are enabled by Microsoft technologies and the Microsoft Azure cloud platform, including Azure IoT Hub and SQL Data Warehouse. The Series 6 modules produced by these factories will power Sun Streams 2, which, in turn, will be used to deliver renewable energy to our world-class datacenters in Arizona,” said Brian Janous, General Manager of Energy and Sustainability at Microsoft. “This is an example of how Microsoft is able to accelerate clean energy and create symbiotic value, not only in our operations but beyond.”
Once operational in 2021, the Sun Streams 2 project will displace 190,000 metric tons of CO2 annually, which is equivalent to taking 37,000 cars off the road every year and saving 356 million liters of water annually based on Arizona averages. The air quality benefits of the project will amount to more than $12.5 million in avoided healthcare costs annually.
“As the global leader in corporate solar, we’re delighted to support Microsoft’s decarbonization commitments,” said Karl Brutsaert, Senior Director of Corporate Renewables at First Solar. “Microsoft operates one of the largest and most innovative cloud infrastructures in the world, so it is only fitting that its latest datacenters are powered by cleaner solar electricity generated by some of the most eco-efficient and innovative solar technology available today.”
Sun Streams 2 is expected to begin construction in late-2019 and will provide up to 500 construction jobs. Aligned with Arizona’s renewable energy policy, the project will contribute significant economic benefits to Maricopa County, including increased tax revenues to support local schools.
“As an Arizona-based company and an American solar manufacturer, we’re thrilled to be powering these datacenters, which will be important drivers of local investment and economic growth,” said Kathryn Arbeit, Vice President of Project Development for First Solar. “This collaboration with Microsoft demonstrates just how large-scale solar can unlock value for local communities that benefit not only from the generation of jobs but also from the tax revenues for the county.”