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Green energy developer earmarks Scotland for 'world's first' ocean-powered datacentre

Plans are underway for a hyperscale-focused datacentre to be built in the north of Scotland, which its developers claim would be the first in the world to be powered by tidal energy

The north of Scotland is being earmarked as a potential location for the world’s first ocean-powered datacentre, as part of a project by global development firm, SIMEC Atlantis Energy.

The site, located in the Caithness region of Scotland, would be powered by renewable energy generated by tidal turbines operated by the firm’s MeyGen division, which owns a seabed lease within the locality that is already home to a 6MW operational array.

To date, that array on its own is reported to have generated 20,000 MWh of power for exportation to the electricity grid, but the company is plotting an 80MW expansion of its capacity to help power the datacentre.

The energy will be supplied to the site via a private wire network, while network connectivity will be delivered via multiple, international subsea fibre optic cables, according to SIMEC’s plans.

It is also working towards a possible go-live date of 2024 to coincide with the completion of the tidal energy site’s 80MW expansion.

It is unclear, however, what the exact specifications of the datacentre would be at this point, although SIMEC has stated the site could have the potential to attract a hyperscale cloud or internet service provider, which gives some hint to the size of the facility being planned.

That said, the company has also mooted the idea of bringing online a smaller “datacentre module” ahead of the proposed 2024 date that would feed off the site’s existing tidal energy capacity.

SIMEC has consulted with multinational engineering firm AECOM on the project and is said to be in discussions with datacentre operators worldwide to progress its server farm construction plans.

Tim Cornelius, CEO of SIMEC Atlantis, said the area’s “persistent” cool weather and proximity to subsea cables mark it out as a favourable location for a sustainable datacentre development.

“Data is being touted as the new oil. It is arguably becoming the world’s most valuable resource, and the amount of data requiring storage is increasing at a staggering pace. However, datacentres are undeniably power hungry, and the clients of data centre operators are rightly demanding power be sourced from renewable and sustainable sources,” said Cornelius.

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

“We also believe that Scotland can play a key role in the global datacentre industry thanks to its ready access to clean energy, and we are eager to play our part at Atlantis to turn this potential into reality.”

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