Microsoft shares news: Tech giant tests underwater data centre

Microsoft shares news: Tech giant tests underwater data centre

Microsoft shares closed a little higher in the US Tuesday, ahead of a new energy efficiency test where it has sunk a new data centre off the Scottish islands of Orkney.

The test is part of research into discovering more energy efficient ways to run data centres which require a lot of energy expended on keeping the centres cool. The thought behind this research is that data centres will naturally remain cooler on the sea floor than they do on land.

Microsoft shares ended the US Tuesday trading session 0.51% higher at $102.19. The stock is also trading in the green in out-of-hours activity.

Microsoft’s ‘green’ research project

Project Natick is about exploring the option of storing data centres – which are integral to the internet and online businesses – underwater, on the sea floor.

Microsoft Tuesday lowered an eco-friendly data centre into the water off the Islands of Orkney.

“The shipping-container-sized prototype, which will be left in the sea for a set period of time before being recovered, can hold data and process information for up to five years without maintenance,” said Cindy Rose, CEO of Microsoft UK.

“Despite being as powerful as several thousand high-end consumer PCs, the data centre uses minimal energy, as it’s naturally cooled,” Rose said.

Adding to its green credentials, the energy it does use is powered by renewable energy, generated by the European Marine Energy Centre’s tidal turbines and wave energy converters. They are able to generate electricity just from the natural movement of the sea.

Scottish support

While this research could well result in significant developments for the way in which data centres are created and how they are powered and stored, its also something that is of benefit to the local Scottish economy.

Orkney is now a major renewable energy research centre, something the country strongly supports.

“With our supportive policy environment, skilled supply chain, and our renewable energy resources and expertise, Scotland is the ideal place to invest in projects such as this,” said Scotland’s Energy Minister, Paul Wheelhouse.

“This development is, clearly, especially welcome news also for the local economy in Orkney and a boost to the low carbon cluster there. It helps to strengthen Scotland’s position as a champion of the new ideas and innovation that will shape the future,” he added.

By Ilona Billington
Ilona is a freelance writer and editor with over 15 years experience reporting and writing about UK and European economics, real estate, financial markets and central banks.
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