Microsoft and SSE form partnership to drive sustainability in the energy sector

SSE and Microsoft have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to help drive sustainability innovation in the global energy sector.

The companies, both Principal Partners to COP26, have agreed to collaborate, trial and test technologies which can help in the drive for net zero.

The partnership will utilise Microsoft’s artificial intelligence, skills programmes and cloud technology to assist SSE’s green ambitions across a number of areas.

It builds on a sustainability and wildlife project that both companies are working on which has seen SSE using the Microsoft Azure cloud to understand how a colony of puffins may be impacted by nearby wind farms.

A live trial has been completed on the Isle of May, off the coast of Scotland, which saw puffins being counted using AI technology, replacing the need for manual counting and improving speed and accuracy. Following the early stage successful trials, it will also be rolled out at the Caithness cliffs located near Beatrice Offshore Wind Farm, Scotland’s largest operational offshore windfarm – which powers up to 450,000 homes.

As part of the partnership, AI and digital twins will be used to improve the lifecycle of SSE’s assets, while predictive models will ensure people, tools and supplies are available in the right place at the right time, and technology used to assist with the safety of engineering and field workers.

Microsoft and SSE’s work will be linked to three timeframes: the first aims to quickly achieve sustainability improvements of SSE’s assets by improving prototyping, development environments, and understanding technology trends that could reduce the overall carbon footprint of the business.

The second timeframe will see collaborative environments set up to help both companies identify opportunities to innovate, leveraging different skillsets to continuously improve.

The final timeframe will see Microsoft and SSE promote the benefits of collaborating to transform the energy market in areas such as renewable energy supply and storage, decarbonisation and data centre energy.

The collaboration comes just a month before the UN Climate Change Conference UK 2021, where both companies will be Principal Partners. The move builds on commitments Microsoft made in 2020 to become a carbon negative company by 2030, and by 2050 remove from the environment all the carbon that it has emitted directly or through electricity use since the company was founded in 1975.

Clare Barclay, Chief Executive Officer at Microsoft UK, said: “The partnership between Microsoft and SSE will create the foundations for a more sustainable energy sector. By combining our expertise, skills and technology, and aligning our shared vision of a greener planet, Microsoft and SSE will develop innovative solutions and best practices that will transform business operations and help build a culture of sustainability investment and innovation across the UK.”

Alistair Phillips-Davies, SSE Chief Executive, said: “Digitalisation and data will help drive net zero and this partnership will combine the latest technology and skills, with our cutting-edge projects, to trial new solutions which support our vision of being a leading energy company in a net zero world.

“Sustainability is at the heart of what we do and this collaboration will continue our work to reduce our impact and tackle climate change.”

For more information on Microsoft’s sustainability journey, visit our dedicated website.