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Scottish government embarks on green datacentre investment push

The Scottish government is on a mission to position Scotland as a green datacentre hub as part of a push to boost the country's economy and achieve its net-zero emissions goal by 2045

The Scottish government wants to position Scotland as a suitable location for datacentres powered by renewable energy as the country looks to invest in its digital infrastructure to generate new sources of economic growth.

As detailed in its Green datacentres and digital connectivity: Vision and action plan for Scotland strategy document, the Scottish government said there was potential to position the country as a “leading zero-carbon, cost-competitive, green data-hosting location”.

This is in line with the Scottish government’s wider sustainability push that has seen the country commit to achieving net-zero emissions of all greenhouse gases by 2045, and would also enable the country to generate “significant new economic growth from data storage, management and innovation”, the document stated.  

Specifically, the document said the government wanted Scotland to be home to a portfolio of different sized datacentres, spanning hyperscale to edge computing environments, that will be spread across the country and marketed to overseas and homegrown investors.

To this point, a coordinated effort will be made to engage and attract investment from international operators to build new facilities, alongside moves to consolidate and upgrade the country’s existing datacentre assets.

Part of this work will include a search for “optimal locations” for new datacentres across Scotland, based on multiple socio-economic and technical factors, while also identifying areas where additional green energy sources will be needed to support any new server farms that are built.

The document went on to acknowledge the country’s green datacentre vision would need to be delivered by a “highly skilled workforce” so the government must ensure “opportunities to increase datacentre management and engineering skills across Scotland are maximised”.

To this end, the document recommended the government takes steps to “identify existing and future skills shortages and gaps” in the fields of datacentre management and engineering, and that it should work with partners to promote employment opportunities.

Public sector organisations will also be encouraged to migrate more of their data to cloud environments hosted by in-country, environmentally sustainable, green datacentres, the document added.

Scottish connectivity minister Paul Wheelhouse said the country was “well-placed geographically” to become an energy-efficient, green datacentre hub.

“We are all aware of the role that attracting new investment within the green datacentres market can play in helping to drive significant economic growth,” he said.

“Scotland is well-placed to create green datacentres with our abundance of renewable energy, and we know digital companies understand the need to make their businesses low carbon. We now need to turn our vision into reality and move at pace to secure the jobs, investment and benefits that are available from these technologies.”

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