AirTrunk has signed a solar power purchase agreement with Hong Kong utility company CLP Power to help its customer, Microsoft, meet its net zero targets.

It will see the data center operator purchase renewable energy certificates (RECs) from CLP Power to offset the electricity used by its Hong Kong data center, where Microsoft is a tenant.

Australia-based AirTrunk is currently up for sale, and could be under new ownership in the next few months, with several investors interested in acquiring the business.

AirTrunk buys solar energy from CLP Power

The 200MW agreement will draw on green energy from solar sites across 17,000 locations in Hong Kong, the companies said.

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AirTrunk's Hong Kong data center – AirTrunk

Damien Spillane, AirTrunk’s chief customer and innovation officer, said: “As the region’s largest hyperscale data center provider, we continue to identify opportunities to collaborate with customers and utility providers to support the sustainable growth of the cloud. This agreement reinforces that multiple stakeholder collaboration is needed to help decarbonize the industry.”

AirTrunk’s Hong Kong data center, near Tsuen Wan, opened in 2020 with an initial capacity of 20MW. The company is now planning a second Hong Kong site, which will come online later this year offering 15MW of IT space.

Lena Low, CLP Power senior director for customer success and experience, said: “We are glad to see more corporate customers have committed to larger and longer RECs procurements, demonstrating their commitment to long-term sustainability and supporting local renewable energy development.

“Together with AirTrunk, we are pleased to support Microsoft to achieve their renewable energy goals. CLP Power will continue to work with our business customers to help them save energy and minimize their carbon footprint in support of the Hong Kong SAR Government’s long-term decarbonization goal.”

In 2022 AirTrunk and CLP Power agreed to a deal for the data center operator to buy RECs to offset Microsoft’s data center emissions on an hourly basis. The RECs covered energy generated at a biogas plant.

Microsoft is aiming to use 100 percent renewable energy by 2025. The company is also reportedly looking to double the amount of new data center space it builds in the next year, meaning its power requirements will also be on the rise.

Adrian Anderson, Microsoft’s general manager for renewable and carbon-free energy, said: “These types of collaborations are key as we continue to move toward meeting our renewable energy goals.” 

Bidders line up for AU$15bn AirTrunk sale

AirTrunk, which operates 11 data centers across the APAC region, is reportedly on the market, with its current owners, Australian investment fund Macquarie Group and Canada's Public Sector Pension (PSP) Investment Board, looking at a complete or partial sale valuing the business at AU$15 billion ($9.7bn).

Last month it was reported interested parties had been asked to sign non-disclosure agreements ahead of making their bids, and now Australian Financial Review has revealed that several of the bidders have been working with banks to finalise their offers.

Investment fund Blackstone, which is said to be in the driving seat to acquire AirTrunk, is reportedly working with Deutsche Bank and Morgan Stanley to finance a deal, while DigitalBridge and Australian infrastructure manager IFM have been in discussions with Barrenjoey Capital Partners ahead of a potential joint offer.

Other interested parties are thought to include investment firm KKR, Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System, and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, as well as AustralianSuper, Australia’s largest pension fund, and Canadian pension fund Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec.