‘Freezing’ Fenwick may provide a warm Scottish renewable welcome to Google and Amazon big-data giants

A CGI image of the proposed partly renewable powered data vault at Fenwick
A CGI image of the proposed partly renewable powered data vault at Fenwick

By DARA BUTTERFIELD

A Scottish renewable energy partnership has unveiled an ambitious plan to create the UK’s first partially self-powered data storage centre – with the hope of attracting to Scotland large technology based companies who utilise cloud-based sharing and storage, such as Google, Apple and Amazon

A planning application has been lodged by ILI (Renewable Energy) and Green Cat Renewables with East Ayrshire Council for the Blair Farm Data Centre – a 10,000 sq metre data vault and a six-turbine wind farm that will partially power the building.

When fully occupied, the vault would require up to 80GWh of electricity every year. When  fully operational, the wind farm is expected to supply 34.1GWh of electricity to the centre over the course of the year, which is 42% of the energy requirements.

This direct supply of renewable energy translates to significant carbon and cost savings when compared to drawing power directly from the National Grid. It is estimated that by using electricity directly from the wind farm, as opposed to drawing from the grid mix, a fully operational Data Centre at Blair Farm would save 13,700 tonnes of CO² per year, compared to a Data Centre that draws solely from the National Grid.

The proposed development would entail an investment of  between £3m – £5m and create 15-20 new permanent jobs for the area, as well as 20-30 further jobs during construction. If approved, development is likely to start next year.

The project hopes of attracting large technology based companies who utilise cloud-based sharing and storage – such as Google, Apple, and Amazon – to Scotland.

Data vaults are used by large technology based companies like Google, Apple and Amazon, who utilise cloud-based sharing and storage of digital photos and music, and also by banks, central government and telecoms companies. Global demand for data vaults is expected grow ten-fold by 2020.

Prospective developer Mark Wilson, ILI Renewable Energy Ltd, said: “Demand for cloud computing, coupled with Scotland’s commitment to clean energy generation and Ayrshire’s natural temperature make Fenwick a perfect location for a purpose built, partially self-powered data storage centre.

“We live in a time when the global economy is highly dependent on efficient digital information systems without robust data security. The demand for reliable IT infrastructure around the world has been crucial in the massive expansion of data centre facilities globally. The Blair Farm Data Centre would be a landmark development for East Ayrshire – a data centre drawing a substantial amount of its energy from a green source.

“Scotland has been earmarked for some time as an excellent potential location for data centres as not only does it have a large highly qualified pool of IT professionals and a much lower security risk in terms of terrorist activity and potential environmental crises, on average it is two degrees cooler than other major European data centre locations.

“This significantly reduces the effects on the environment of such a development as less energy is actually required to keep conditions stable at the centre due to the cooler climate. Scotland is also renewable energy-friendly, and well on track to achieve the government target of 100% of electricity supply from renewable sources by 2020.”

 

 

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