Hong Kong planning underground data centers

Government plans to build data centers in subterranean caverns a bid to find new space, but finding suitable sites may be difficult and construction may have an environmental impact on water tables.

Hong Kong's government is looking to create new space by building data centers in the special administrative region in underground caves.

Speaking at the Datacenter Space Asia Conference on Thursday, Hilary Cordells, partner at a local real estate law firm Cordells, revealed plans for subterranean data centers underground were in progress, The Register news site reported.


"Rock cavern development can be done, and data centers use is a particuarly good one. It's on the government's radar screen and it's taking active steps," Cordells said, adding it is not easy as some sites will be more suitable than others.

It is also possible for ownership to be divided according to different strata since legally, the person who owns the ground "owns everything underneath the center of the earth and everything above to the heavens".

While the theory is sound, the environmental impact of construction could be high, as water tables would need to be lowered and toxic material removed, she noted.

Engineering consultancy firm Arup released an initial feasibility report last year which stated underground facilities in Hong Kong will benefit datacenter owners by increasing security, as it reduced the risk of accidental impact, blast and acts of terrorism.

The report also found two-thirds of Hong Kong having land of "high to medium suitability" for digging rock caverns. Within the territory, five areas with an area of over 20 hectares a piece have been selected in the report as "strategic cavern areas" which can technically accomodate multiple cavern sites. The areas incude Hong Kong island's Mount Davis, Kowloon's Lion Rock, New Territories' Tuen Mun and Sha Tin, and Lantau Island's Siu Ho Wan.