China’s Highlander signs up to build commercial underwater data center on Hainan Island

January 13, 2022 | Renewables | Energy Facts Staff Writer | 2min

Highlander has signed an agreement to build a commercial underwater data center, at Sanya, a coastal city on the south of Hainan Island, China.

The 5.6 billion yuan ($880 million), project will be the world’s first commercial underwater data center, and will boost the Hainan Free Trade Port, according to a report in China Daily. The project fits in with local five-year plans which are backing underwater data centers as a means to reduce cooling costs and save emissions.

Full steam ahead

Wang Bin, vice-governor of Hainan, announced the agreement at a meeting on low-carbon infrastructure, held in Sanya on December 26. Wang said the project was important in the development of Hainan Free Trade Port, and forms part of a plan to promote marine infrastructure. “Hainan will make good use of its unique marine resources to cultivate a leading low-carbon green marine infrastructure industry cluster in the country,” reports China Daily.

Highlander’s first tests were of a single module, an underwater pressure vessel holding four racks. In May 2021, Hainan announced a plan to chain 100 modules or “data cabins” together on the sea bed, creating a more substantial facility, which would be powered by the Changjiang Nuclear Power Plant, on the North West of Hainan. December’s announcement gives a more definite location, Sanya, which is some 200km from Changjiang.

At the meeting, Xu Tan, vice-president of Beijing Highlander Digital Technology, said the advantages of the data center would include power saving, land saving, water saving, and low total costs, according to China Daily.