Microsoft's New Biogas-Powered Plant

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CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP)-- The dedication event of Microsoft’s zero-carbon, waste-to- energy-powered Data Plant on November 6 in Cheyenne marks an advancement in Wyoming’s position as a partner in innovation and advanced energy deployment.

Wyoming can now add biogas fuel cell power to its technology and energy portfolios.

“Growing Wyoming’s technology sector has been a priority and Wyoming is seeing results,” Governor Matt Mead said. “This alternative energy project is not only a zero-carbon data center, it is more. It is a laboratory for biogas and fuel cell research. Wyoming is on the cutting edge.”

A cable-cutting ceremony for the plant begins at 10 a.m. on November 6 at the Dry Creek Water
Reclamation Facility located at 8911 Campstool Road.

The project uses biogas produced at the Dry Creek facility to power the fuel cell at the Data Plant. The biogas is a byproduct of municipal wastewater treatment. Anaerobic bacteria produce the biogas while stabilizing solids removed from wastewater. The fuel cell electrochemically converts the biogas into electricity to power the Microsoft IT server container.

The fuel cell plant is expected to produce 300 kilowatts of renewable power while the datacenter will only use about 200 kW. The remaining kilowatts will be delivered back to the wastewater treatment plant to reduce its electric bills.

FuelCell Energy, Inc. of Connecticut developed the fuel cell technology to convert unused biogas into ultra-clean power generation solutions. The plant uses an electrochemical reaction to generate electricity and heat. Virtually no air pollutants are released because of the absence of combustion.

Siemens worked with Microsoft and FuelCell Energy to engineer and install power monitoring equipment for the data center. This technology measures the performance and energy output of the fuel cell so enough consistent, high-quality power is delivered to run the data center 24-7. By utilizing this intelligent software, alternative resources like biogas and technologies such as fuel cells can be a proven source of reliable energy for critical installations.

Other advantages include reliable base load power for continuous electricity and heat and on-site power production to improve reliability without the cost of electrical transmission and distribution.

A coalition of industry, University of Wyoming, Business Council, Cheyenne LEADS, Cheyenne Board of Public Utilities, the Western Research Institute and state and local government partners led to the project coming to fruition. University of Wyoming students will have access to the plant for further

“This project has been a collaboration of many organizations. We are very proud to have had the opportunity to be a part of this fascinating project,” states Randy Bruns, CEO of Cheyenne LEADS.

The State Loan and Investment Board, comprised of the five statewide elected officials, approved a $1.5 million Wyoming Business Council Business Ready Community grant request from the city of Cheyenne in 2012 to help fund the $7.6 million plant. Microsoft covered the remaining cost.

Microsoft’s imprint on Wyoming’s capital city has grown steadily. The Redmond, Wash.-based company has invested nearly $500 million on the Data Plant and multiple data centers already constructed and currently under construction in the North Range Business Park near the National Center for Atmospheric Research’s Wyoming Supercomputing Center in Cheyenne.

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