Strategic partnership will see Microsoft buy renewable energy from oil and gas major, as well as providing Shell with digital tools to help 'drive efficiencies'
Microsoft and its long-time client Shell have announced plans to collaborate on a raft of green projects designed to slash greenhouse gas emissions across their respective value chains, ranging from sustainable aviation to clean energy procurement.
Under the terms of partnership announced yesterday, Shell has agreed to provide renewable energy to Microsoft in support of the tech giant's ambition to be 100 per cent powered by renewables by 2025.
For its part, meanwhile, Microsoft has committed continue providing artificial intelligence (AI) sevices designed to "drive efficiencies" across Shell's operations, in addition to working on digitial tools to help the oil giant's customers and suppliers better understand and reduce their environmental impacts, they said.
The two firms have also pledged to collaborate on exploring the development of sustainable fuels for the aviation sector.
Judson Althoff, executive vice president of Microsoft's worldwide commercial business, touted the strategic alliance as a model for how companies should work together to achieve their net zero ambitions. "Cross-industry collaborations like this are fundamental to help society reach net zero emissions by 2050, and digital transformation is key to tackling this important issue, within the energy sector and beyond," he said.
Shell's downstream director Huibert Vigeveno, meanwhile, added that the partnership would enable the firms to "unlock tremendous progress" and "push the boundaries of what can be achieved".
Microsoft has increasingly come under fire for its ongoing work with the fossil fuel industry, with green groups arguing the firm's cloud computing and AI contracts with downstream oil and gas companies undermines its industry-leading decarbonisation ambitions.
A Greenpeace report published in May warned that the relationship between oil and gas and AI providers was a "devastating partnership for the climate" and estimated that AI technologies could boost oil and gas production levels by as much as five per cent.
The green group said the relationship between Big Oil and Big Tech could also become more cosy over the coming decades as the fossil fuel industry navigates a turbulent energy transition. Overall spend by oil and gas companies on cloud computing and advanced analytics is set to balloon from roughly $2.5bn this year to $15.7bn in 2030, Greenpeace claimed.
In an interview with BusinessGreen in May, Microsoft's chief environmental officer Lucas Joppa responded to the criticism levied at company for its work with fossil fuel firms, arguing ostrasizing the oil and gas industry would be counterproductive for the energy transition. "We are not going to fundamentally change the game or achieve societal transition through disengaging in conversations, and completely disengaging in collaborations with the sector that is going to be the most affected," he said.
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