Microsoft is stepping up its commitment to reduce the impact its data centers have on the environment, with a goal to use 50 percent renewable energy by 2018.

A wind farm in Norfolk, England

As more services move to the cloud, online giants are building more data centers to keep up.

On Thursday, Microsoft said it will step up its commitment to reduce the impact its data centers have on the environment.

Across the tech sector, we need to recognize that data centers will rank by the middle of the next decade among the largest users of electrical power on the planet, Brad Smith, the company's president and chief legal officer, said in a blog post.

Today, roughly 44 percent of the electricity used by Microsoft s data centers comes from renewable energy sources, he said.

And it's experimenting with undersea data centers, which may be able to tap into offshore wind farms and require less energy for cooling.

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