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⚡ Energy & Renewables at Microsoft

My Climate Journey

Photo by Turag Photography / Unsplash

Table of Contents

Host: Jason Jacobs
Guest: Brian Janous | General Manager of Energy and Renewables | Microsoft
Category: ⚡ Renewable Energy

Podcast’s Essential Bites:

[3:58] “I'm responsible for our global energy strategy for our cloud infrastructure for our data centers, which for Microsoft is really all of our energy consumption. It represents about 95% of our energy consumption. And I've been in this role for 10 years. […] I was actually the first person to come to Microsoft to work on energy. At the time, it wasn't even clear to me why a company like Microsoft needed someone like me.”

[9:27] “As we've transitioned to being a company where […] cloud […] is approaching 50% of the company's revenue, it's become a lot more clear that […] energy is critically important to us. Both for growing our business, because we are a very large energy consumer. Data Centers represent about 1 to 2% of the world's electricity consumption […]. And as we look to this next decade, I think the cloud companies will be the single largest commercial consumers of electricity in the world. So that's kind of a big deal. But the other issue, of course, is then how we think about the source of that electricity. And over that time, over the last decade, sustainability has increasingly become a more important issue for the company. And therefore the focus quickly goes to what are the biggest sources of carbon emissions for the company. And of course, electricity rises to the top pretty quickly.”

[11:47] “I've been at the table for almost every decision that the company has made around commitments around climate. And the most significant one, initially was in 2012, when we committed to be carbon neutral. And so this was sort of our first foray and at the same time, we established an internal carbon tax, where we said, okay, if we're going to, we're going to be carbon neutral, we're going to make sure that the businesses that are responsible for carbon emissions actually have to put the bill. And so we started with a carbon tax, to tax all of the business groups, and that money then went into a centralized fund, and we used it at that time to largely buy renewable energy credits and carbon offsets.”

[20:58] “In 2019, when we made our carbon negative commitment, then we actually expanded to include scope three to include our supply chain, which for us represents about 75% of our emissions. So we not only increased the pie considerably, versus what we were doing in the years prior to 2019. We also increased our ambitions in that we're not talking about being just carbon neutral anymore, we're talking about being carbon negative, because the goal is to also pay back our climate debt from the founding of the company in 1975. Hence, the need to be negative beyond 2030. And we of course, introduced significantly more complexity, because now we're talking about supply chain, which is far more complex than thinking about our own direct emissions, and our electricity emissions.”

[35:45] “If you ask anyone on my team, what are the priorities, they're gonna say, it's reliability. So we have to be able to keep the lights on to deliver services to our customers. It's cost. We've got to continue to drive costs down so that we can grow the business and provide the services we provide. And its sustainability. […] We basically have three non negotiables that we have to balance all the time. And, of course, there's going to be trade offs along the way.”

[46:42] “[Policy] is critically important. There's no way that as a society, we're going to achieve the climate outcomes we need without a concerted effort of policymakers, regulators, and commercial entities driving the types of behaviors and decisions that we need to see. […] If we don't have the supportive policies that are focused on getting us to this goal of decarbonization, we're not going to get there. Or maybe we'll get there, but it's going to take an extra couple of decades for us to do so. I would say it's equally as important to have corporations at the table as well. Because if you don't have that demand, and if you don't have that voice of industry saying this is important to us, […] they're not going to have the push to go as fast without that voice. So I think you need both. There's really no way to get there without having both at the table.”

[52:46] “I think the biggest problem that we still have today is just the lack of data and transparency about energy systems, about even how the grid operates. And so as we're thinking about this issue of getting to zero carbon energy 100% of the time, the fact of the matter is, we don't have great visibility today into what's happening on the grid in any given hour. And then therefore, it makes it very difficult to know, well, what is the next decision we need to make? And if I think about that, take that down all the way to the granular level of just say, a household. […] If you've got a dumb grid, it doesn't matter how smart your meter is. It's only as good as the information that's being fed to it.

Rating: ⚡⚡⚡

🎙️ Full Episode: Apple | Spotify (Original Title: "Brian Janous, General Manager of Energy and Renewables at Microsoft")
🕰️ 1 hr 1 min | 🗓️ 10/18/2021
✅ Time saved: 59 min

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