Microsoft proves practicality of renewables-powered underwater data centres
Washing the retrieved underwater data centre. Source: Microsoft
A team of marine specialists working for Microsoft Corp (NASDAQ:MSFT) has proven that the concept of underwater data centres is both feasible and practical and is now even entertaining the idea of running such facilities on offshore wind power.
Earlier this summer, the so-called Project Natick team reeled up a shipping-container-size prototype of a data centre that was deployed in the spring of 2018 at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney, Scotland, where tidal and wave power turbines are being tested.
Since then, team members have tested and monitored the performance and reliability of the 864 servers stored within the sealed container. They have determined that the failure rate in the water is one-eighth of what has been recorded on land.
The Northern Isles project was hooked to the Orkney Islands grid, which is supplied entirely by wind, solar and offshore renewable energy technologies deployed at EMEC.
“We have been able to run really well on what most land-based data centers consider an unreliable grid,” said Spencer Fowers, a principal member of technical staff for Microsoft’s Special Projects research group. Now, project manager Ben Cutler is considering the option of co-locating a similar facility with an offshore wind park, Microsoft says in a blog post.