Google floats green data centre ideas

It is possibly the most popular search engine in the world - but Google could add another string to its bow if it becomes powered by environmentally-friendly data centres.

The company has filed a patent in the US for marine-powered floating platforms to house energy-hungry data centres.

The designs include choices of tidal-powered or wave-powered electrical generators, and marine powered cooling systems.

If wave-powered generators are used, the patent said they will use technology from Pelamis Wave Power, formerly known as Ocean Power Delivery, which is involved in the £28m Wave Hub planned off the coast of Cornwall, in the UK.

But Google has stressed that this is one of a number of patents it regularly files and the idea may not become a reality.

A company spokesperson told edie: “We file patent applications on a variety of ideas that our employees come up with.

“Some of those ideas later mature into real products, services or infrastructure – some don’t.

“We do a lot to make our infrastructure scalable and cost efficient, but at this time we have nothing to announce regarding this specific technology.”

According to the patent, the floating platforms would allow new data centres to be built quickly and moved easily to the locations needed to meet the increasing demands of internet users for more and faster services.

It said: “It can be expensive to build and locate data centres, and it is not always easy to find access to necessary (and inexpensive) electrical power, high-bandwidth data connections, and cooling water for such data centres.

“This document describes systems and methods that may be employed to provide data centre support in an area quickly and flexibly.”

A report produced in the UK in 2007 revealed that the ICT sector has a global carbon footprint similar to that of aviation, partly as a result of the vast amounts of power consumed by data centres.

Kate Martin

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