Google’s plans to surf the internet (literally)
by David Masters
September 16, 2008
Power-hungry data centres could be shipped out onto the high seas under new plans by Google to make the internet more eco-friendly.
The company has filed a patent for offshore data centres.
Data centres house the supercomputers that enable the internet to run.
They require huge amounts of electricity to operate as they must constantly be kept cool.
In 2005, data centres consumed one percent of the world’s electricity – and future consumption is expected to rise dramatically.
With the cost of energy soaring and environmental concerns pressing hard, Google’s solution is to move data centres to offshore barges where the motion of sea water could be used to create power, and sea water could be pumped through the barges as a coolant.
As an added bonus to Google, the offshore data centres would be exempt from tax.
One of Google’s plans would see the barges housed 11km off the coast of Cornwall using energy from the £28 million Wave Hub planned for the area.
Google, however, has stressed that it frequently files patents, many of which do not become a reality.
A spokesperson for the company said that offshore data centres are one of many ideas that Google is considering to reduce its environmental impact.
The Environmental Transport Association welcomed the patent. The group said that if they were built, Google’s offshore data centres would set ‘an inspiring green example’ to other international companies.
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