OPG, Microsoft to work toward net-zero future for Ontario

September 28, 2022, 3:06PMNuclear News

Ontario Power Generation and Microsoft Canada have formed a partnership aimed at combatting climate change and driving sustainable growth across the province of Ontario, the Canadian utility announced this week.

Under the partnership, Microsoft will procure clean energy credits (CECs) sourced from OPG’s nuclear and hydro assets in Ontario on an hourly basis. (OPG’s nuclear assets include the four-unit Darlington plant and six-unit Pickering facility.) According to the announcement, this will enable Microsoft to advance toward its 100/100/0 by 2030 goal, which commits the software firm to powering its data centers globally with zero-carbon energy, 24/7.

Revenue raised through sale of CECs can be used to benefit ratepayers and support investments in new clean generation in the province, OPG said, helping to meet increased demand for electricity to power Ontario’s economic growth.

Showing initiative: Along with Microsoft’s purchase of CECs from OPG, the two companies also plan to collaborate on several sustainability initiatives, including an exploration of digital coinnovation opportunities to accelerate OPG’s small modular reactor program, with a goal of developing a service that other global energy providers can leverage in the future to deploy SMRs locally.

In addition, under a recently signed memorandum of understanding, Microsoft and OPG will evaluate procurement of CECs associated with the carbon-free energy produced by the proposed SMR for Darlington. (In December of last year, OPG selected GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy’s BWRX-300 SMR as the technology for its Darlington nuclear new-build project.)

What they’re saying: “This innovative partnership will not only spur economic development in Ontario but also serve as a model for other companies and jurisdictions to encourage use of clean hydro and nuclear power,” stated Ken Hartwick, OPG’s president and chief executive officer. “As part of OPG’s Climate Change Plan, we committed to achieving net zero as a company by 2040, and to act as a catalyst for efficient economy-wide decarbonization. Ensuring industry has access to clean energy to offset emissions assists in meeting that goal.”

Chris Barry, Microsoft Canada’s president, said the partnership “will help Microsoft move closer to achieving our sustainability commitments, including our goal of having 100 percent of our electricity consumption, 100 percent of the time, matched by zero-carbon energy purchases by 2030.”

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