Google is thinking about going to sea in a move that will potentially change their legal and tax status by placing their data storage operations on ships outside of national jurisdiction.
The ingenious plan came to light via a patent search in the USA which revealed that two years ago Google filed a patent application for putting data centres on ships at sea and harvesting the energy in waves for power.
According to the UK Times Google refused to say how soon its barges could set sail. The company said: “We file patent applications on a variety of ideas. Some of those ideas later mature into real products, services or infrastructure, some don’t.”
The Times claim that Google is considering deploying the supercomputers necessary to operate its internet search engines on barges anchored up to seven miles (11km) offshore.
The “water-based data centres” would use wave energy to power and cool their computers, reducing Google’s costs. Their offshore status would also mean the company would no longer have to pay property taxes on its data centres, which are sited across the world.
In the patent application seen by The Times, Google writes: “Computing centres are located on a ship or ships, anchored in a water body from which energy from natural motion of the water may be captured, and turned into electricity and/or pumping power for cooling pumps to carry heat away.”