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AWS seemingly behind proposal to rebuild defunct HP data centre in Swindon

Written by Mon 19 Apr 2021

Similarities between Swindon proposal and recent Didicot A power station project backed by Amazon Web Services

A proposal has been submitted to rebuild a defunct Hewlett-Packard data centre facility near Swindon. The former HP site was made up of two separate buildings, which will be torn down and replaced with a single building consisting of four data halls.

The new facility will include N+1 data redundancy and 10 diesel generators at 2MW each, consistent with a data centre footprint of 27MW.

The tear down and rebuild plan was submitted on behalf of Mullhaven Properties LLC of Denver; which is apparently a shell company used to disguise the actual investor behind the project.

This is a tactic that is commonly used by large corporations in the initial stages of large-scale data centre projects like this: allowing companies to negotiate tax deferrals, organize construction and materials, and get community support without the baggage often associated with being one of the largest companies in the world.

While the actual owner of the project has not been stated openly, there are many similarities between the Swindon proposal and the recent Didicot A power station project in Oxfordshire, backed by Amazon Web Services.

The Didicot A power station rebuild was also proposed under the name of a shell corporation: that one, Willow Properties instead of Mullhaven. The two projects are of a similar size and layout; and while the Swindon proposal doesn’t mention AWS directly it does mention that the client is focused on sustainable and renewable energy, with a goal of net-zero carbon by 2040 and 100% renewable energy by 2025.

These details align with Amazon’s Climate Pledge, which includes stated goals of net-zero carbon by 2040 and 100% renewable energy by 2025.

The bid to expand the Amazon data centre footprint in the UK may be the result of some disappointing 2020 returns that were recently published, showing a 28% drop in pre-tax profits for its Irish data centre arm. While Amazon has a number of owned data centres that support both its core business and Amazon Web Services, the actual global footprint is believed to rely more heavily on colocation than owned and operated facilities.

However, as demand for data centre services increases, the company may very well be looking to transition to newly-constructed or refurbished data centres rather than colocation, both to shore up profits and to reach sustainability goals.

Written by Mon 19 Apr 2021

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