UTSA and Microsoft establish sustainable energy research and development pact

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(April 16, 2014) -- The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) and Microsoft Corp. (Microsoft) announced today a three-year agreement to research and develop sustainable technologies to make data centers more energy efficient and economically viable.

In addition to the research agreement, Microsoft made a $1 million gift to UTSA to support the university's research and technology programs.

"Our objective is to bring together technology, economics and commercialization to create a smart intelligent energy system," said C. Mauli Agrawal, UTSA vice president for research. "We want to identify economically viable technologies that will reduce the environmental footprint of data centers."

The multi-disciplinary research will focus on expanding business opportunities for new distributed energy technology that reduces energy consumption and emissions, improves reliability and contributes to a sustainable energy future.

Microsoft is investing $250 million in a new 256,000 square foot data center next door to its existing 427,000 square foot facility in San Antonio. To have more control over the needed energy supply for the data center, the tech giant is working to address not only how electricity is used and distributed inside data centers but also how consumption of electricity impacts the broader grid.

Working with UTSA on energy solutions will enable the company to expand its commitment to optimizing for efficiency inside the facility, as well as its global data center portfolio. Additional benefits will be realized in integrating and investing in driving greater sustainability and scalable efficiencies in the broader energy supply chain.

"Distributed generation represents a major shift in the energy sector that will dramatically change how data centers operate," said Brian Janous, director of energy strategy at Microsoft. "The leadership of the Texas Sustainable Energy Research Institute at UTSA and the city of San Antonio were instrumental in bringing this research to a community like San Antonio."

Most data centers, by design, consume vast amounts of energy in order to adequately cool and maintain the computer servers they house. As companies' needs for data centers continue to rise, this research agreement between UTSA and Microsoft is a step toward finding sustainable solutions to enhance the overall performance of these facilities and reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions.

"Research partnerships like this are a game changer for San Antonio and UTSA," said UTSA President Ricardo Romo. "They enable UTSA to conduct innovative research in sustainable energy while positioning the city on the global business stage."

"Microsoft's partnership with UTSA is an important investment in San Antonio's continued rise as a center of innovation in the New Energy Economy," said San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro.

Overseeing much of the research is the Texas Sustainable Energy Research Institute at UTSA, which was established in 2010 to serve as a catalyst for coalescing the many energy research and education projects underway at the university. Specializing in the areas of energy, water and sustainability, the institute maintains strong partnerships with CPS Energy, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, private energy companies, universities and nonprofits.