China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) plans four more data center mega clusters, doubling the number of state-sanctioned clusters in the country.

The project, known as the "Eastern Data Western Calculation" initiative, plans to boost data centers in economically poorer but energy-rich western provinces, moving facilities out of constrained locations like Beijing.

– Sebastian Moss

Back in December 2021, the NDRC announced clusters in the northern Inner Mongolia region, northwestern Ningxia region, Gansu province, and southwestern Guizhou province.

Now, the commission has added campuses in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, the Yangtze River Delta, the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, and the Chengdu-Chongqing economic circle. On top of these 'national computing hubs,' ten smaller data center hubs could be planned.

“The eight national computing hubs, as the backbone connection to China's computing network, will develop data center clusters, carry out collaborative construction between data centers, cloud computing, and big data, and bridge the gap between eastern and western regions in computing resources,” the Commission said.

The clusters will see private and state-owned businesses build data centers with state backing.

The NDRC told state broadcaster CCTV that the eight clusters could lead to as much as 400 billion yuan ($63 billion) in investment every year, across data centers, telecommunications, renewable energy, software, and other infrastructure projects.

"Tencent will actively participate in China's initiative of 'Eastern Data Western Calculation,' optimize the current allocation of data centers, enhance trans-regional computing power relocation," Tencent said in a statement to state media. The company said that it planned to build two data centers in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, as well as one in Shanghai.

It said that its Chongqing data center will become the largest single data center in Western China, spanning 74,000 square meters (780,000 sq ft) and will be home to 200,000 servers.

Rival Alibaba said that it was building 'super data centers' (which appears to be its description of large facilities) in Hangzhou and Nantong; Heyuan of South China's Guangdong; Zhangbei of North China's Hebei Province, and Ulanqab, a city in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.

Local tech company Jialitu said that it was building a data center for Nanjing Kaide Youyun Data Co. in Nanjing.

The National Development and Reform Commission said that it would prioritize projects in areas with accessible renewable energy. Last December, it told local municipalities to prevent the "blind and disorderly development" of data centers.

Local governments are told "in principle" not to provide incentives to data center companies to build facilities in areas that aren't classified as national hubs by the government.

In July, China published a three-year-plan for the data center industry, demanding that new facilities become more efficient, have a PUE of 1.3, and have a utilization of 60 percent by the end of 2023.

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