July 24, 2020 Read More →

Sol Systems, Microsoft partner on 500MW of community-based solar projects

Greentech Media:

Sol Systems and Microsoft announced [last week] they will work together on a portfolio of 500 megawatts of U.S. solar projects as well as investments in communities on the front lines of climate change.

Washington, D.C.-based Sol Systems will finance, develop and operate the new solar projects, which will add to its existing 1 gigawatts of solar in operation or construction. The portfolio represents the largest single renewables investment yet from Microsoft, which plans to reach “carbon-negative” status by 2030 and by 2050 remove more carbon than it has historically emitted.

While the size of the portfolio alone is notable, the partnership is also unique for its emphasis on community involvement. Unlike many corporate renewables purchases, which have become a significant driving force for new solar and wind additions, the Microsoft and Sol Systems collaboration emphasizes community impact.

Projects will be sited in “under-resourced communities” disproportionately impacted by pollution and climate change. The companies did not detail how those communities would be selected, though Sol Systems noted a particular emphasis on communities that have been significantly economically impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Project size will range from between 2 megawatts and 10 megawatts in urban environments to installations larger than 50 megawatts. The two companies did not provide specifics on where the solar projects would be located but said the portfolio will span several states, with some built in the territory of the PJM Interconnection.

On the same day as unveiling the partnership with Sol Systems, Microsoft announced it was joining up with eight other companies including Mercedes-Benz and Starbucks to help develop research and guidance for corporations transitioning to net-zero emissions by mid-century. The Environmental Defense Fund, a green group that has promoted market-based approaches to combatting climate change, is another founding member and the only non-profit organization among the current group.

[Emma Foehringer Merchant]

More: Microsoft and Sol Systems to build 500 megawatts of solar, boost community investment

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