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Working Together with Microsoft to Decarbonize the Grid

By September 20, 2021November 29th, 2021Blog

The very ethos of open source and LF Energy is that we can accomplish digital paradigm shifts faster, more securely, and with less costs to the bottomline. We are better together than going at it alone. That collaborative might is needed now more than ever to decarbonize our power grid and, eventually, our economy to save the planet from climate change.

Against that backdrop–and the urgency we face with climate change–we are thrilled to announce that Dr. Audrey Lee, Senior Director of Energy Strategy at Microsoft, has been elected to serve as the General Member representative to the LF Energy Foundation Governing Board.

Audrey has led the engagement for Microsoft, which recently joined the LF Energy Foundation.

In an interview with Swapnil Bhartiya of TFiR, Audrey talked about Microsoft’s electricity decarbonization goals and the opportunity to collaborate with  LF Energy members.

Moving fast, together

Audrey noted, and we agree, that no one entity, not even a force like Microsoft, or customers or utilities, working alone can match the challenges we face.

To do its part, Microsoft has committed that, by 2030, 100% of its electricity consumption, 100% of the time, will be matched by zero carbon energy purchases.

This is an effort that all companies need to make to transform our economies and save our very planet. Swapping out the engines–including fossil fuel– that drive our global economy is not just a pre-competitive opportunity, but a cooperative march to arrest climate change and the disastrous social and economic threats it promises. The members of LF Energy believe that there is gold at the end of this rainbow where innovation does not destroy capital, but enables us to do more with less.

But, as Audrey noted, Microsoft “cannot control outcomes by ourselves,” and it cannot control how electricity is generated. Microsoft can, however, work with others to influence how it purchases electricity and to move toward decarbonization of the whole grid.

This harnessing of the collective innovation, power and mindset is the very reason LF Energy exists. Decarbonization is no longer a nice to have, or even a choice, and it shouldn’t be viewed as a competitive advantage just for some. It is a necessary building block to create a sustainable future for everyone. And every company, every organization, every piece of the economy, needs to get on board.  Billions, if not trillions, of dollars will be spent to transform our economies and the titans of industry must lead.

Scaling technologies, adapting regulations

LF Energy nurtures the most cutting edge of all open source projects to enable this mission. By joining forces with others, including Microsoft, those technologies can come to life faster and then spread quickly throughout the energy industry.

As Audrey noted in her interview, LF Energy also is a forum to help foster changes in our regulatory environments so that they, too, welcome technological investment and change.

Energy utilities today are like the telecom monopolies of decades ago. Telecom seized the opportunities of the internet and transformed. Energy utilities are now at a similar precipice, as are the regulators who oversee them. Transformation is needed in regulation, too, so that policies drive–not hinder–technology investments.

It is imperative that companies, organizations, and government leaders, all of us, be part of that effort so that progress happens at the speed needed to meet the challenge at hand.

Whether solutions lie in new technologies, new mindsets, new regulations–or, most likely, all three–and a bunch of other factors, too, LF Energy will be part of it.