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‘World’s first’ ocean-powered data centre planned for Scotland

Written by Tue 10 Sep 2019

Underwater tidal turbines to power hyperscale facility in north Scotland

Green developer SIMEC Atlantis Energy has announced plans to construct the world’s first sea-powered hyperscale data centre in the north of Scotland.

The site in the Caithness region of Scotland will be powered by electricity generated from MeyGen, a tidal energy project SIMEC Atlantis launched in 2010 at an offshore site between Scotland’s northernmost coast and the island of Stroma.

Although two independent projects, the data centre will be MeyGen’s primary energy consumer when it launches. The turbines in the tidal array currently generate 6MW of capacity, with plans approved to develop up to 86MW capacity. The facility is planned to be operational by 2024 in line with MeyGen’s expansion, and a smaller data centre drawing on energy from the existing tidal array is also an option, the company said.

SIMEC Atlantis is also looking at connecting other renewable projects to the data centre to help alleviate local renewable energy bottlenecks.

The data centre would tap into international subsea fibre optic cables, providing a hub for connections to London, Europe and the USA, although Atlantis said it is assessing the feasibility of the connections with global engineering firm AECOM. In addition to being powered by tidal energy, the site’s low temperatures will help cool the facility.

SIMEC Atlantis plans to attract a hyperscale occupier such as Amazon, Google or Facebook to the facility and is in discussions with operators to accelerate its development and facilitate expansion of the company’s underwater tidal turbines.

“The clients of data centre operators are rightly demanding power be sourced from renewable and sustainable sources,” Tim Cornelius, CEO of SIMEC Atlantis said in a press release.

“This exciting project represents the marriage of a world-leading renewable energy project in MeyGen with a data centre operator that seeks to provide its clients with a large amount of computing power, powered from a sustainable and reliable source – the ocean.”

Scotland is no stranger to water-based data centre innovations. In June 2018, Microsoft submerged a data centre off the coast of Orkney to investigate its effects on energy efficiency.

The data centre industry is facing increasing backlash over the energy and space required to run facilities. This week, Greenpeace co-authored a report that claimed data centres in China are on track to consume more energy than all of the homes and businesses in Australia combined.

Written by Tue 10 Sep 2019


energy environment renewables UK
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