First Solar Project To Power Microsoft Data Centers In Arizona

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First Solar Inc. has announced that its Sun Streams 2 solar PV project will power new energy-efficient data centers being built by Microsoft Corp. in Goodyear and El Mirage, Ariz.

The local 150 MW AC facility, being developed and constructed by First Solar in Maricopa County, will power the data centers under a 20-year agreement.

The project 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, the company claims.

First Solar, which is headquartered in Tempe, Ariz., is expanding its manufacturing capacity to meet the demand for Series 6 modules, with its second facility in the U.S. – representing nearly $1 billion in cumulative investment – expected to start production in early 2020 in Perrysburg, Ohio.

Brian Janous, general manager of energy and sustainability at Microsoft, points out that First Solar’s factories are “enabled by Microsoft technologies and the Microsoft Azure cloud platform.”

“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 data centers in Arizona,” he explains. “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 is expected to displace 190,000 metric tons of CO2 annually, which is equivalent to taking 37,000 cars off the road every year.

Sun Streams 2 is expected to begin construction in late 2019, providing up to 500 construction jobs. Aligned with Arizona’s renewable energy policy, the project will also 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 data centers, which will be important drivers of local investment and economic growth,” says 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.”

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