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Top data centre investment opportunities for Scotland revealed in new study

Written by Thu 29 Jun 2023

A new study by Host in Scotland has highlighted Scotland as an ideal location for data centre construction. Some factors leading to this conclusion are the temperate climate, the renewable energy capability of the country, and its cost-competitive location.

Specialist consultants FarrPoint and TechRE, operating on behalf of Host in Scotland, reviewed data from its Site Selection report in 2021 to identify five new sites across Scotland to be shortlisted as ideal data centre locations.

The new sites include Aberdeen ETZ, Queensferry One, as well as locations in Fife, Midlothian, and Falkirk. The full Site Selection shortlist now includes 20 sites in total.

“With its expanded list of desirable sites, our updated report is likely to be of great interest to current data centre owners or operators in Scotland, as well as potential new entrants to the market, infrastructure providers and investors,” said Dr Andrew Muir, CEO of FarrPoint.

Richard Lochhead, Minister for Innovation, said the Host in Scotland report highlights the reasons that Scotland is an attractive destination for data centre investment.

“This important report highlights Scotland’s strengths in the international data centre market due to our renewable energy generating capabilities,” said Lochhead.

Scotland eyes data centre investment

The study by Host in Scotland follows up on the Scottish Government’s Green Datacentres and Digital Connectivity: Vision and Action Plan for Scotland, which seeks to improve Scotland’s global competitiveness, digital resilience and investor attractiveness.

The plan pointed out that data centres powered by renewable energy and international fibre connections would be key to a growing digital and data economy. As such, Scotland stands to benefit from economic growth if it is successful in attracting investment, increasing capacity, and accelerating adoption of data-heavy technologies across the country.

“The significant carbon footprint incurred through the processing and storage of data globally is becoming increasingly understood. I am keen that Scotland is seen to lead the way in securing data centres which are powered by our green energy,” added Lochhead.

The Scottish Government is expected to work with Scottish Enterprise, Scottish Futures Trust, other public sector partners to develop and strengthen the country’s data centre and international subsea fibre industries, as well as their supply chains.

“As a key economic enabler, digital infrastructure is a critical part of our plans for a fair, green and growing economy,” said Lochhead.

Host in Scotland, funded by Scottish Futures Trust and Scottish Government, is an umbrella organisation established to promote new investment in the data centre and subsea sector industries.

“We hope the report will kick-start conversations about Scotland’s attractiveness as a destination for these developments, leading to more investment and economic growth for the country,” said Suzanne Sosna, Director of Economic Opportunities at Scottish Enterprise.

Renewable Energy in Scotland

The renewable energy capacity in Scotland has grown steadily over the past decade, with an average year-over-year increase of 700MW since 2009. The increase from 2021 to 2022 was the largest ever at 1,621MW in a single year.

65% of renewable energy capacity in Scotland is generated by onshore wind, with the remaining 35% a combination of offshore wind, hydro, and solar power.

While renewable capacity is growing, energy usage is growing as well. But in Scotland, renewables continue to grow proportionally in comparison to total usage, and renewables ‘continue to be the largest single contributor to electricity generation in Scotland’.

According to Scottish Renewables, renewable energy is ‘one of the best tools’ we have to combat climate change. The growing proportion of renewable electricity in Scotland is expected to gradually displace the need to generate electricity from polluting fossil fuels, thus reducing total carbon emissions.

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Written by Thu 29 Jun 2023

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