Scotland to be paved with data centres

Scotland is set to become a Mecca of data centres, thanks in part to the availability of renewable energy sources such as wind and wave power.

Three major Scottish data centre projects have been revealed in recent weeks. This week, Microsoft technology partner Alchemy Plus announced that it is planning to build a 20,000 square foot data centre in Inverness.

Building the £20 million facility in the region will reduce cooling costs thanks to the low atmospheric temperature, the company said.

Scotland’s climate has also attracted a $430 million (£290 million) project, backed financially by investment bank Morgan Stanley, to build a wave-powered data centre at the Pentland Firth, the stretch of water that separates the Orkney Islands from mainland Scotland.

Atlantis, the company behind the project, is still seeking a partner ‘with a significant web presence’ for the project. Both projects are awaiting planning permission and hope to begin construction in 2010.

Largest data centre of all time

But the most staggering project of all is a proposed 3 million square foot (250,000 square meters) data centre in the Lockerbie area. If it goes ahead, the Lockerbie data centre will be the largest data centre in the world by some margin.

By way of comparison, data centre hosting provider Interxion operates 40,000 square meters of data centre space across 22 sites. The Lockerbie data centre will cover more than six times that area.

Wind power and a bio-mass generator (which burns organic matter as fuel) will make a ‘sustainable contribution’ to the power demands of the data centre, according to Lockerbie Data Centres, the company behind the project. As with the Inverness site, the heat produced by the data centre will be redirected to heat local housing.

Scotland’s cold, windy climate presents the country with “the opportunity to establish itself as a first-choice location for corporate data centres,” said John Hume, CEO of Lockerbie Data Centres.

However some observers are not convinced of Scotland’s viability as a data centre destination.

Commenting on Atlantis’s Pentland Firth project, Jeff Paschke of data centre analyst firm Tier1 Research asked: “Instead of investing $430 million in unproven tidal technology in an unproven data centre market, wouldn’t it make more sense to invest in data centres in proven top markets with strong data centre demand and supply?”

Further reading

IT in a cold climate
There is a compelling argument for picking Iceland as the destination for next-generation data centres

Future of the Data Centre 08
Data centre imperatives. A report from Information Age‘s Future of the Data Centre conference

Find more stories in the Data Centres Briefing Room

Pete Swabey

Pete Swabey

Pete was Editor of Information Age and head of technology research for Vitesse Media plc from 2005 to 2013, before moving on to be Senior Editor and then Editorial Director at The Economist Intelligence...

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