Underwater innovation from Microsoft

Microsoft is currently testing the possibility of using underwater data centres in a bid to offer more energy-efficient cloud computing services.

It is believed that data centres use as much as three per cent of the total electricity produced in the world, with bigger technology firms now looking to find alternative ways to offer cloud storage services. Microsoft says that as half the population of the world lives less than 125 miles from the coast, this would speed up the time it takes for data to travel between the storage facility and the user.

By putting the data centre under water, there would also be a reduced need for cooling systems; in addition, by combining this with offshore renewable energy, the data centres could become carbon neutral in time.

The first underwater data centre was placed just one kilometre from the coast of California between August and December last year. The centre has now been removed and is being analysed. The unit had been steel-encased and fitted with sensors that monitored the changing conditions.

Greenpeace is calling upon Microsoft to do more research into the renewable energies that can be used, saying that its rivals are doing more to ensure that renewable energy is utilised.

A number of tech companies are considering placing data centres in countries that have colder climates as another option to reduce energy usage. Facebook, for example, has put a data centre in Sweden’s far north, just 70 miles from the Arctic Circle.