This week, eagle-eyed reporters spotted a big fish in a flood of new patents: Google just won a patent for a sustainably powered, floating data center. It would sit 3 to 7 miles offshore in seas about 200-feet deep, and rely on power generated by either wind turbines or sea-powered generators. Not that the search giant plans to develop tidal equipment or turbines itself–rather, the patent suggest that it’s trying to lash together two previous inventions: Their patented, modular data centers housed in shipping containers, which were rolled out in 2005; and rapidly advancing wind and sea-power technologies.
The idea makes a lot of sense, from Google’s point of view: Its data centers consume massive amounts of electricity, which unavoidably involves coal-fired plants. Going green with tidal or wind energy stands to save the company cash–and, of course, karma points are a bonus.