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China Greenlights Data Centre Clusters in North and West

China has approved plans to build four clusters of data centres in the country’s north and west for the data needs of Beijing and major coastal centres, the top state planner said on Wednesday


This is a 2018 picture of a data centre that Tencent was building in Guizhou. Huawei also saw hollowed out hills in Guizhou as cool and secure sites for data centres. Facebook has data centres in Sweden, near the Arctic Circle because of the need to keep centres cool. AFP pic.

 

China has approved plans to build four mega clusters of data centres in the country’s north and west with the aim of supporting the data needs of Beijing and major coastal centres, according to the country’s top state planner on Wednesday.

The clusters will be built in the Inner Mongolia and Ningxia regions as well as Gansu and Guizhou provinces, the National Development and Reform Commission said in four separate statements.

The four locations can use their energy and environmental advantages to set up green and low-carbon mega data centres, the state planner said.

The move comes as power-hungry data centres located in China‘s east have found it difficult to expand due to limits imposed by local governments on electricity consumption.

Some cities in China‘s northern and western regions rich in renewable energy resources such as wind and solar power have already built data centres to serve the economically developed coast.

But their distant locations have meant the centres have struggled to provide the near-instantaneous retrieval demanded by coastal clients with little tolerance for delays.

It is unclear how China would turn western and northern regions such as Ningxia and Gansu, which are 1,000 km (600 miles) from the coast, into actively operating centres of computing power given the data latency caused by the huge distances to data users in the east.

A marine economy development plan published on December 14 encouraged major coastal cities such as Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Zhuhai to relocate high energy-consuming data centres to underwater locations to cut energy used for cooling.

China aims to expand “big data” into a more than 3 trillion yuan ($470 billion) sector by 2025 through the building of several such clusters, according to a 2021-2025 plan by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology issued in November.

 

• Reuters with additional editing by Jim Pollard

 

 

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Jim Pollard

Jim Pollard is an Australian journalist based in Thailand since 1999. He worked for News Ltd papers in Sydney, Perth, London and Melbourne before travelling through SE Asia in the late 90s. He was a senior editor at The Nation for 17+ years and has a family in Bangkok.

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