Maritime technology company Beijing Highlander, has just unveiled China’s first underwater data center project in the Guangdong Province of Zhuhai.

The data center, containing racks of servers, will be sealed in an air-tight cylindrical vessel and be submerged near a port in Zhuhai. As reported by China News Service (CNS), Beijing Highlander plans to carry out and build more underwater data center projects over the next five years across the Greater China region, including the Yangtze River Delta, the Hainan Free Trade Port, and Guangong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area.

“The biggest bottleneck to data center development is energy consumption. It consumes too much power and cannot be halted for a second. Seawater can be used to reduce energy consumption by about 30 percent,” said Xu Tan, Vice President of Beijing Highlander.

This announcement is coming about 4 months after Microsoft retrieved its Project Natick data center from the seafloor off Scotland’s Orkney Islands after two years of deployment. The 40-foot-long data center was manufactured by Naval Group and its subsidiary Naval Energies, experts in naval defense and marine renewable energy.

In 2018, Microsoft sunk the shipping-container-size data center into the ocean, loaded with 12 racks containing a total of 864 servers and associated cooling system infrastructure. Upon the retrieval in 2020, the company launched the final phase of its years-long effort, proving that the concept of underwater datacenters is feasible, as well as logistically, environmentally and economically practical.

Alongside submerging the Chinese data center, Beijing Highlander is reported to be currently involved in site selection, cable installation and commissioning for a test which will run from June 2021 to May 2022. At that point, the project will be promoted to governments, scientific research institutions, and financial institutions, and become commercialized in Q2 2023.

In line with the China project, Highlander also established partnership with China Mobile Communications Group Hainan Co., Ltd., Lenovo (Beijing) Information Technology Co., Ltd., China Communications Service Construction Co., Ltd. and Qi’anxin Technology Group Co., Ltd.