KATIE FEHRENBACHER, Earth2Tech/GigaOm, September 8, 2008
When Google’s energy guru Bill Weihl told us that the search engine giant has been looking at renewable energy options for data centers like solar thermal, wind and geothermal, we had no idea the company was considering the deep blue, too. Well, according to a patent that Google filed that’s starting to get picked up around the blogosphere, the company is looking into a “water-based data center” that floats on a platform and uses “a sea-based electrical generator” and “sea-water cooling units.”
Google’s patent mentions a wave-powered electrical generator system that uses machines made by Pelamis. Pelamis is a decade-old Edinburgh-based company that has raised £40 million of investment and employs more than 70 people. Pelamis is already working on three large wave farms that range from 2.5 MW to 5 MW in capacity. The patent also mention using wind turbines for the sea-based electrical generator to “provide pumping power for the sea-water cooling units.”
So what’s the purpose of sending data centers out to sea? Google says floating data centers on the water can get them significantly closer to users, which can cut down on the connection costs and latency issues of long distance connections. Google also sites the possible need for floating data centers to get close to emergency situations, like a natural disaster or military war zone. Other companies like IBM, Sun and HP have modular data center products, but this is the first we’ve heard of the data centers bobbing on the high seas.