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Scotland in renewed push to attract more hyperscale and colocation datacentre development

Against a backdrop of the Scottish government continuing to court datacentre developers, Host In Scotland publishes report flagging 20 sites that are ripe for development

The promotion of Scotland as a viable alternative location for hyperscale and colocation datacentre operators to site their facilities is continuing apace, with the publication of a report flagging 20 locations north of the border that would be suitable for large-scale server farm developments.

The report, compiled by Host in Scotland, is in support of a multi-year effort by the Scottish government to attract more datacentre investment into the country, as power supply issues and rising land prices make it harder for operators to source suitable sites around the M4 corridor.

“This heady mix of power price increases, lack of power security, unavailability of powered sites, and unprecedented hot weather combined with a requirement for direct feeds from renewable power plants has created a perfect storm for Scottish sites to provide 100% renewably powered datacentres,” the report stated.

“Using this report to market sites with abundant energy, low-cost and direct access to renewables will put into question why real estate teams are straining to find expensive, under-powered and non-green datacentres sites around Greater London and the M4.”

The report itself follows on from an earlier 2021 publication that identified 15 potential new sites, adding a further five to the tally and bringing the total to 20. These new sites are located in Aberdeen, Fife and Falkirk, while the remaining two can be found in Midlothian.

Host in Scotland was assisted with its site search and selection work by connectivity consultancy Farrpoint and datacentre development advisory firm TechRE.

FarrPoint CEO Andrew Muir said the updated report is likely to be of great interest to existing datacentre operators in Scotland, as well as potential new entrants to the market.

“The methodology and approach [in the report] are consistent with how the datacentre industry identifies sites for further detailed due diligence, so the report provides a reliable and useful starting point and guide to investigating data centre opportunities.”

Meanwhile, Henry Sutton, director at TechRE, said Scotland’s climate and renewable energy capability mark it out as an ideal location for datacentre operators.

“Our new report comes at an opportune time for the country, as datacentres increasingly seek out access to large sources of sustainable energy whilst plans for renewable projects, particularly major windfarms off the coast of Scotland come to fruition,” said Sutton.

As previously mentioned, the Scottish government has been actively promoting the country as a suitable location to site renewably powered datacentres as means of generating new sources of economic growth. 

The endeavour began in March 2021 with the publication of the Green datacentres and digital connectivity: vision and action plan for Scotland strategy document, which positioned Scotland as a “leading zero-carbon, cost-competitive, green data-hosting location”.

The country’s innovation minister, Richard Lochhead, said the environmental footprint of datacentres is becoming an increasing concern around the world, which is why it makes sense for operators to consider sites where green energy is in abundance.

“The Scottish government’s Green datacentres and digital connectivity: vision and action plan for Scotland seeks to improve our global competitiveness, digital resilience and investor attractiveness around the opportunity for sustainable, green datacentres and international digital connectivity, building Scotland’s profile as a leading zero-carbon, cost competitive green data hosting location and enabling progress towards net-zero ambitions,” said Lochhead.

“We are working closely with Scottish Enterprise, Scottish Futures Trust, other public sector partners and industry to develop and strengthen Scotland’s datacentre and international subsea fibre industries, including their supply chains.

“Ensuring that Scotland can realise the full economic benefits of the digital and data economy is fundamental to the Scottish gvernment’s National Strategy for Economic Transformation. As a key economic enabler, digital infrastructure is a critical part of our plans for a fair, green and growing economy,” he added.

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