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Data Centers Head Underground

Data centers struggle with a number of ongoing challenges, including finding space to hold massive banks of servers, and finding economical ways to keep things cool. Planners in space-strapped Hong Kong hope to a take a new approach when it comes to addressing the space issue: put new data centers in underground caves.

According to a report in The Register, Hilary Cordell of real estate law firm Cordells revealed the plans at the Datatcentre Space Asia conference earlier this month. Engineering consulting firm Arup already completed a feasibility study on digging purpose-built caves, and several areas have already been identified as potential strategic cavern areas.

Being underground has a number of advantages: a consistent, cool ambient temperature; enhanced security; and potential energy savings. There are some very significant potential obstacles, though, including supplying power, venting diesel fumes, pumping in fresh air, and dehumidifying the facility.

“It’s a great idea – as you know underground rock formations, caves, caverns etc. maintain an even all year round cool temperature,” said Amod Jayawant, director of critical environments at real estate services firm CBRE. “However, the technical side of this equation is not so pretty. It’s really a bunch of questions, the answers to which are sometimes not feasible or extremely expensive.”

There are already a few underground data centers, including Green Mountain in Norway and Cavern Technologies in Kansas City. Moving forward in Hong Kong, however, will require significant financial investments, and even backers of the idea expect that it will take a number of years before the regions sees its first subterranean data center.

Source: The Register

About Brian Albright

Brian Albright is a contributing editor to Digital Engineering. Send e-mail about this article to DE-Editors@digitaleng.news.