China is planning to establish large clusters of data centers outside the main population centers, to provide digital infrastructure without overloading power grids.
According to a Reuters report, China's National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) announced approved data center developments in the northern Inner Mongolia region, northwestern Ningxia region, Gansu province, and southwestern Guizhou province, all of which have the benefit of strong energy supply and good environmental conditions.
The four locations can use their energy and environmental advantages to set up green and low-carbon mega data centres, the state planner said.
Earlier this month, China has outlined its strategy to contain emissions in “digital infrastructure” involving data centres and high-speed (5G) telecommunications networks, setting key targets towards its 2060 carbon-neutrality goal.
South China Morning Post, quoting NDRC, said that the government will optimise the construction layout of data centres and 5G networks to boost its carbon-reduction initiatives, and has warned local authorities to prevent unchecked developments.
“Data centres and 5G are strategic resources and public infrastructure that support the future economic and social development, while they are also the most crucial part that matters to the new infrastructure’s energy conservation and consumption reduction,” the top economic planner said in a statement.
China is also home to the world’s largest 5G network and the world’s second-biggest data-centre industry after the US in 2020. It considers digital infrastructure as a top priority for boosting employment and economic growth.
China had about 74,000 data centres in 2019, accounting for roughly 23% of the global total, according to an April report published by Greenpeace, an environmental activist group.