Microsoft has quietly filed a patent for a wind-energy powered data center with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
The design is essentially the same as any other wind turbine. There appears to be no other innovation on the actual design or function of wind turbines. One unique feature is a “hollow tower of the wind-powered generator [that] may be used as a chimney to cool the servers.” Other than that, Microsoft is just patenting the simple idea of powering their servers with wind energy.
Wind power has increased by 25 percent in the last decade. Most notably, T. Boone Pickens vowed to line the state of Texas with wind turbines to counteract the United States’ dependence on foreign oil. Despite its increase in popularity, however, wind energy still accounts for a very small percentage of alternative energy uses.
According to a National Geographic report on wind energy, “industry experts predict that if this pace of growth continues, by 2050 the answer to one third of the world’s electricity needs will be found blowing in the wind.”
Given the race to find the next answer to oil, it isn’t surprising that large technology companies like Google are trying to patent sustainable energy data centers such as their “floating data center,” which uses hydroelectricity to power servers and the ocean’s currents to cool them. Google’s filings have led environmentalists to believe that these efforts are moving in the direction of sustainability to power our ever-increasing technology needs.
However, since being granted the patent in 2009, there hasn’t been any talk of Google’s hydroelectric-powered data centers. Which leads to the question of whether Microsoft has any intention of building its wind-powered data centers or are they just setting themselves up to become patent trolls?
Photo credit: Kwerdenker