Microsoft announced today a new strategic alliance with solar panel manufacturer Qcells, aimed at advancing the renewable energy supply chain in the U.S., and supplying at least 2.5 GW of solar panels and related services for projects supplying Microsoft with renewable energy.
The new partnership follows the launch by Microsoft in 2021 of its its 100/100/0 clean energy goal, with the company targeting having 100% of its electricity consumption, 100% percent of the time, matched by purchases from zero carbon energy sources by 2030, adding to its prior commitment to use 100% renewable energy in its buildings and datacenters globally by 2025.
Microsoft said that it is extending its sustainability activities to support domestic production of green energy equipment in the regions it operates globally.
Brad Smith, vice chair and president, Microsoft, said:
“Building a resilient solar energy supply chain is essential to advancing a global green energy economy. Microsoft’s partnership with Qcells will help make this vision a reality by bringing innovation and investment to rural Georgia. As one of the world’s largest purchasers of renewable energy, this work will help bring more solar energy to the grid, faster.”
Under the new collaboration, the companies will work together to develop solar projects, and provide panels and engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) services to projects that Microsoft has contracted through power purchase agreements. The companies estimate the projects will require at least 2.5 GW of solar panels and EPC services.
Earlier this month, Qcells, a subsidiary of South Korean conglomerate Hanwha Group, announced plans to invest more than $2.5 billion to build a complete solar supply chain in the U.S., marking both the company’s largest investment and the largest investment in the U.S. solar industry to date. The initiative will see Qcells break ground in early 2023 on a new manufacturing facility for solar ingots, wafers, cells, and finished panels in Bartow County, Georgia, and assemble 2 GW of solar panels at its existing facility in Dalton, Georgia. Overall, Qcells anticipates growing its solar panel production capacity in the state to 8.4 GW by 2024, and establish itself as the only company in the U.S. to make a fully-integrated, silicon-based solar supply chain, spanning raw materials to finished panels.
The companies stated that the alliance marks the first time that a company that procures energy is working with a solar supplier to adopt clean energy on a big scale.
Justin Lee, CEO of Qcells, said:
“We’re striving to build and deliver turnkey clean energy solutions, including those made in America, and this partnership with Microsoft will help accomplish this vision. Similarly, Qcells is proud to play a role with Microsoft to bring more renewable energy online in the years to come. This first step is only the beginning of a great partnership that not only supports our two companies but helps deliver a clean energy future for customers and communities.”