Wave energy to power undersea data centers

Offshore, underwater data centers are going to be powered using wave motion, says a sustainable energy developer. And it’s going to happen soon.

Commercial wave energy company Ocean Energy says it’s almost completed a marine hydrokinetic wave generator build and that the 1.25 Megawatt power-production capacity vessel will be ready to deploy in 2019.

The 125-feet-long wave converter OE Buoy will provide enough electricity for a subsea data center platform, the company claims.

“Technology companies will be able to benefit from wave power [in] marine-based data storage and processing centers,” Ocean Energy CEO John McCarthy said in a press release earlier this month. “OE Buoy presents them with the potential double-benefit of ocean cooling and ocean energy in the one device.”

Shipbuilder Vigor has been constructing the water generator in its Portland, Oregon, yard. When it’s complete, the 826-ton vessel will be towed to the U.S. Navy’s Wave Energy Test Site in Hawaii and be used in a grid-scale project. However, Ocean Energy says the device is fully scalable and could be used in offshore fish farming or aquaculture, powering underwater naval vehicles en masse, energizing remote island communities, and powering marine-based data centers.

Microsoft recently deployed an unrelated, sunken, data center off Scotland. That shipping-container-sized server room was submerged 112 feet below the surface and may be a harbinger of things to come. Advantages of water-based, off-shore data center-locating include no rent — there’s no landlord in open waters — and proximity to expensive real-estate population centers — most of the world’s population lives near a coast.

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