Ongoing drought has potential to stunt Spanish data centre market development


Amid one of the driest ever springs in Spain, a sector expert is warning that a lack of free cooling capacity could hinder the burgeoning growth of the nation’s data centre market.

As hyperscalers and colocation facilities alike grapple with power-related challenges in the FLAP-D markets, data providers are gravitating towards Europe’s Tier 2 markets of Zurich, Milan, Madrid and Berlin, with a 2022 projection from CBRE forecasting that these will triple in size by Autumn 2023.

Of these, Madrid was highlighted as the main beneficiary, with 47 megawatts set to come online in 2022 and 2023. However, following reports that the Spanish water reserve fell below 50 per cent in May, Aggreko is warning that interruptions to free cooling processes have the potential to stifle the market’s ongoing growth.

“Spain, and Madrid in particular, is becoming an increasingly attractive location for data centre facilities. The Spanish government’s Digital Spain 2026 policy is a huge bonus for data providers, while the nation’s wider commitment to realising renewable energy means that energy shortages are less severe compared to other European nations,” Billy Durie, global sector head for data centres at Aggreko, said.

“That said, Spain is currently enduring one of the worst droughts recorded this century. Without water, free cooling processes simply are not possible, which has the potential to stunt the wider development of the market if left unchecked. For this reason, it is critical that data centre operators ensure that contingency plans are in place in the meantime to maintain business continuity.”

Aggreko recently published a report, ‘Uptime on the Line‘, which explored the challenges facing European data providers, based on research insights from 700 European data centre consultants.

Within the report, changing temperature demands was highlighted as a key area of concern, with extreme weather posing a threat to data centre cooling systems. Here, Aggreko highlights on-site cooling packages as a potential solution, with connection points being installed during the colder months of the year, allowing chillers to be quickly brought in to maintain uptime.

Durie concluded: “Right now, one of the main factors making Madrid such an attractive location for new data centres is the lack of power-related challenges associated with the FLAP-D markets. However, this unique position faces the threat of being undermined by a lack of free cooling capacity.

“Extreme weather is by no means a new phenomenon, and seems to only become more common year on year. For this reason, I would strongly recommend operators to incorporate temporary chillers as a part of their contingency strategy going forwards, to allow the Spanish data centre market to continue to thrive.”

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