Microsoft data centre prior to deployment at EMEC (Credit Microsoft)

Naval Group | Project Natick

In June 2018, Naval Group led the successful installation of the 450kW subsea data centre at EMEC’s Billia Croo wave energy test site, on the west coast of the Orkney mainland. Installation was carried out by local marine contractor Green Marine.

The operation was part of Phase 2 of Microsoft’s ‘Project Natick’, a research project investigating the numerous potential benefits that a standard, manufacturable, deployable undersea data centre could provide. The project is part of Microsoft’s ongoing quest for cloud data centre solutions that are less resource intensive and offer rapid provisioning, lower costs, and high agility to meet the needs of cloud users around the world.

Deepwater deployment offers ready access to cooling, a controlled environment, and has the potential to be powered by co-located renewable power sources, such as the pioneering wave and tidal energy technologies testing nearby at EMEC’s test sites.

The data centre, which was as powerful as several thousand high end consumer PCs and had enough storage for about five million movies, was initially anticipated to remain on site for around one year, but ended up testing for a second year.

Further details on the project are available on Microsoft’s blog: The Orkney Islands in Scotland just became one of the most exciting places in tech

The project was partly supported by the INTERREG NWE FORESEA programme which has facilitated continuous remote monitoring from the Microsoft team based in Washington, USA.

The data centre was retrieved over summer 2020 with Microsoft finding that the concept of underwater datacenters is feasible, as well as logistically, environmentally and economically practical.

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About Naval Group

Naval Group is a European leader in naval defence. As an international high-tech company, Naval Group uses its extraordinary know-how, unique industrial resources and capacity to arrange innovative strategic partnerships to meet its customers requirements. The group offers a wide range of marine renewable energy solutions. Attentive to corporate social responsibility, Naval Group adhere to the United Nations Global Compact. The group reports revenues of €3.7 bilion and has a workforce of 13,429 (data for 2017).







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