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Microsoft Seeks Patent for Sustainability Platform

August 21, 2023 by Joe Panettieri

Microsoft is seeking a patent for a sustainability platform that coordinates and optimizes power consumption between computing devices and the associated energy grid.

The overall idea is for computing devices to scale up or scale down their energy consumption based on the device's location and various forecast information.

According to an example from Microsoft's filing:

  • A sustainability platform obtains sustainability information associated with an energy grid, as may be provided by a data provider.
  • The sustainability platform may provide a sustainability forecast, which may be received and cached by a computing device.
  • The computing device may use the sustainability forecast to manage various device functionality, such that functionality may be performed during one or more times that are identified to have a comparatively lower environmental impact, thereby deferring device energy consumption during a time forecasted to have a higher environmental impact.
  • The sustainability forecast cached by the computing device may be updated on a periodic basis or in response to determining that the location of the computing device (and, potentially, the associated energy grid) has changed, among other examples.

Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability

The patent effort comes as Microsoft competes and cooperates with hundreds of software companies in the sustainability sector. Much of the company's overall work involves Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability -- which allows customers to support Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions data. Scope 3 support was in beta testing as of mid-2023.

Rivals such as Amazon, Google and Salesforce also have various cloud-based sustainability software platforms.

Meanwhile, numerous AI (artificial intelligence) and cloud companies are developing scale up/scale down sustainability platforms that adjust energy consumption based on various forecast information. We'll be watching to see if Microsoft achieves defendable patents in this area.

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