Can Microsoft Patent a Wind-Powered Data Center?
Once in a while, I stumble across a granted patent or a patent application that makes me wonder whether it is a serious filing or just a submission that tests the USPTO's willingness to grant a patent to something as trivial as a pound of sugar.
Microsoft may be the latest organization that is trying to test the boundaries of what can be patented and what not. For example, an application for a wind-powered data center.
You could be thinking of some ingenious idea to generate power for a data center, but you may be disappointed. The patent simply describes a data center that is connected to a wind-powered generator. That power generation system is explained as a system that "includes blades mounted to the top of a tower that is at least partially hollow, the blades configured to rotate when the wind blows to generate the power." I am pretty sure that Microsoft refers to those wind turbines that we are used to seeing across the country, often on farm land.
There is also an elaborate description of servers with containers that are "mounted to an outer wall of the tower to form a supportive base for the tower." There are more claims reaching from a data center that is not connected to a traditional electric grid (which I had no idea could be possibly patented), battery resources to store the power generated by a wind turbine, as well as controllers that are able to determine whether the turbine creates just enough, not enough or too much power to power the data center. If there is excess power, the batteries would be charged, if there is not enough power, power would be drawn from the batteries.
I have to admit that I am not an expert in this particular field, but I find it rather amazing that such an idea could be considered for a patent filing. Microsoft's reasoning behind the filing is pure consciousness for renewable energy sources, stating that "more and more computer servers are utilized which is causing the amount of available power to become a scare resource and a resultant increase in the amount of carbon emitted to power servers."
In large parts, the patent filing is a good example that reminds me of school essays, which simply required me to describe a simple idea on as many pages as possible - and I am not especially proud of those papers. In fairness, there are some thoughts in Microsoft's patent filing that could be considered a new idea, even if they may not make it into the real world - such as "hollow tower of the wind-powered generator [that] may be used as a chimney to cool the servers."