Microsoft made a commitment in 2016 to use 60 percent renewable energy for its operations by early 2020. It has since taken concrete steps to move to renewable sources of energy. The company has now announced what it claims to be the “single largest corporate purchase” of solar energy in the United States, it has purchased 315 MW of energy from the new Pleinmont I and II solar projects in Virginia. Microsoft says that this purchase will help it make significant progress toward its goal.

Brad Smith, a president at Microsoft, says that the 315 megawatt purchase in Virginia actually puts the company ahead of schedule in creating a cleaner cloud. “This project means more than just gigawatts, because our commitment is broader than transforming our own operations; it’s also about helping others access more renewable energy,” he added.

The power that Microsoft has purchased will be supplied by more than 750,000 solar panels that are spread across an area of more than 2,000 acres. The Pleinmont I and II solar projects will produce nearly 715,000 MWh of renewable energy annually.

Microsoft has achieved two major milestones with this deal. It has met its target to power at least 50 percent of its datacenters with clean energy by 2018 and it’s the first step to achieving that 60 percent goal by 2020. The sheer size of this deal also brings Microsoft’s total of directly purchased renewable energy at around 1.2 gigawatts.

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