Capture instead of avoid: Microsoft wants to become "CO₂-negative" with wood-fired power plant
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Capture instead of avoid: Microsoft wants to become "CO₂-negative" with wood-fired power plant

Translation: machine translated

Tech giant Microsoft wants to significantly reduce its carbon footprint by 2030. A power plant fuelled by wood chips is also intended to contribute to this. In total, Microsoft wants to offset around 2.8 million tonnes of harmful greenhouse gases.

In order to reduce its ecological footprint, Microsoft is also focussing even more on technology that "captures" CO₂ that is already in the atmosphere. In this way, the company wants to achieve its goal of becoming not only CO₂-neutral, but even CO₂-negative by 2030. From this point onwards, Microsoft wants to remove more CO₂ from the earth's atmosphere than the company itself produces. When announcing its CO2 target for 2020, Microsoft had already emphasised that it would not only focus on reduction, but above all on capturing or offsetting the CO₂ produced.

Microsoft has now entered into a partnership with the Danish energy company Ørsted. The contract on which it is based involves the US company purchasing certificates for a total of 2.76 million tonnes of carbon dioxide - over a period of eleven years, i.e. even beyond 2030. It is the largest deal of its kind in the world.

Buying the CO₂ certificates means that Microsoft does not reduce its own emissions itself, but gives money to the partner who then virtually takes care of it. This partner, Ørsted, has been associated with Microsoft for many years. For example, the Danish energy company operates a wind farm with the support of Microsoft's AI solutions.

The new deal enables Ørsted to build a so-called CCS plant next to an existing coal and wood-fired power plant (see photo above). The letters in the abbreviation CCS stand for "carbon dioxide capture and storage". Ørsted's CCS plant is also subsidised by the Danish government's Energy Agency, among others. Together with Aker Carbon Capture, a Norwegian company specialising in CCS, 430,000 tonnes of CO₂ will be captured annually and ultimately stored under the North Sea floor off Norway.

The companies involved describe the deal as an important milestone on the way to realising technological solutions for CO₂ reduction.

Burning wood as a climate protection measure is controversial

Environmental organisations criticise the fact that burning wood is described as sustainable. This is because, as with burning coal, gas or oil, it also produces CO₂. Those in favour of burning wood argue that the trees have previously removed CO₂ from the atmosphere during their growth phase and can therefore be burned in a virtually climate-neutral way. According to the company, the biomass burnt by Ørsted comes from sustainable sources. The European Union has categorised biomass as sustainable under certain conditions https://energy.ec.europa.eu/topics/renewable-energy/bioenergy/biomass_en#:%7E:text=Biomass%20for%20energy%20%28bioenergy%29%20continues,the%20EU%E2%80%9D%20%282019%29..

Google and Apple also want to be CO₂-free by 2030

In addition to Microsoft, Google is also one of Ørsted's customers. The search engine supplier recently signed a contract to purchase 150 megawatts of electricity over the next 15 years in order to become CO₂-neutral by 2030. The electricity for the deal comes from a wind power plant in Texas. The "Helena Wind Farm" with 66 turbines has been in full operation since June 2022 and generates up to 268 MW.

2030 is also the magic year for Apple. The company is making various efforts to reduce its CO₂ emissions by then. Among other measures, Apple recently set out an ambitious timetable for the use of recycled materials.

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Cover photo: Bob Collowan / Wikimedia

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Journalist since 1997. Stopovers in Franconia (or the Franken region), Lake Constance, Obwalden, Nidwalden and Zurich. Father since 2014. Expert in editorial organisation and motivation. Focus on sustainability, home office tools, beautiful things for the home, creative toys and sports equipment. 


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