Scotland makes bold pitch as sustainable data centre location

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Twelve prime sites have been identified as the result of a study which has been developed to help establish Scotland as an attractive location for green datacentres and to accelerate inward investment from the datacentre sector.

Host in Scotland, a datacentre sector support initiative set up by infrastructure experts the Scottish Futures Trust, and in partnership with Scottish Enterprise and Crown Estate Scotland have published two datacentre site selection reports, which were undertaken by datacentre specialists TechRE on their behalf, highlighting a wide range of locations across Scotland that fulfil several key datacentre criteria.

“As we work to establish Scotland’s position as a world leader in data, we welcome the announcement from Scottish Futures Trust,” Gillian Docherty, CEO of The Data Lab, Scotland’s innovation centre for data and AI, said. “With the recent launch of Scotland’s AI Strategy, it is more important than ever to support the rollout of improved connectivity to meet our digital ambitions and, as chair of the newly announced AI Alliance, I am keen to ensure we foster a collaborative environment that helps our country to lead the way in this field.

“At The Data Lab, we believe Scotland can lead the world to a future where data powers scientific progress, economic prosperity and social good. The ability to move data quickly and cost effectively across Scotland and beyond is essential to the work we hope to deliver, so it is great to see sites being identified throughout the country, from Caithness to Campbeltown.

“We are primed to support innovation and growth in data and AI, and these new datacentres have the potential to attract new investment and encourage new business. This will be a vital step in the road to economic recovery following the Covid-19 pandemic, and we look forward to supporting these opportunities where we can.”

The reports provide the identification and review of high potential datacentre sites across the country that will support Scotland’s digital ambitions and rollout of improved connectivity.  In developing the reports, over 100 sites across the country were reviewed and concluded with a Longlist and a Shortlist of sites to assist the datacentre market in their consideration of Scotland as a new territory in which to locate or for the expansion of the indigenous Scottish market. 

The shortlist represents sites which have a very clear, unique proposition and represent excellent site conditions which could quickly and easily lend themselves to becoming a large-scale datacentre facility. The longlist also provides strong datacentre site locations which could be utilised for data centre provision, but which may, in some cases, require further remediation works or upgrades in connectivity.

“The outputs from this important commission have identified the huge opportunities that exist right across Scotland,” James King, who heads up Host in Scotland said. “We have long known that Scotland has a tremendous offering to the data centre sector and these two documents provide evidential support for this with a particularly strong renewable energy story. We would welcome engagement with data centre owners, operators and investors to provide further detail and support to their consideration of Scotland as a location for their new facilities.”

 The document sets out four pillars for Scotland’s data centre future. It aims to develop a portfolio of different sized Scottish datacentres, from edge to hyperscale facilities, across geographic locations, delivering enhanced capacity and supported by a highly skilled workforce in Scotland. It plan sto deliver access to energy infrastructure that is robust, resilient, competitively priced and powered by renewable energy, generated in Scotland. The third strand is to facilitate multiple open access/dark fibre terrestrial fibre providers servicing urban, rural and island locations including direct links to Scotland’s coastlines. Finally, it calls for multiple subsea cable routes connecting Scotland directly to the European Union (EU), the European Economic Area (EEA) and the United States of America (USA).

“Our ability to keep up with the global improvements in connectivity are in large part reliant on the development of new state of the art data centres, and on the development of the new subsea cables that those data centres will require, both of which Scotland is well placed to host,” Colin Palmer, Director of Marine for Crown Estate Scotland continued.

The report states that the strategic plan is to create a Ministerial Working Group to oversee and co-ordinate activity in this area across Government and the wider public sector. It is proposed that this would include the Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands, Minister for Trade, Innovation and Public Finance and Minister for Rural Affairs and the Natural Environment. Furthermore, it calls to establish green datacentres and terrestrial/international digital connectivity investment structures: work with Scottish Futures Trust to develop interventions where public action or funding may be required to attract further commercial and international capital investment.

“The scale, space and infrastructure on offer to companies looking for their next datacentre location is evident in this report with sites across the length and breadth of Scotland offering access to unique hubs that are well connected as well as providing opportunities in the supply chain and access to talent,” Scottish Enterprise head of place Derek McCrindle said. 

The Datacentre Development report follows the launch of the Scottish Government’s Green Datacentre and Digital Connectivity Vision and Action Plan and will also attract investors looking for a place to host data that can provide the right solutions for the climate and the economy.”

 

Twelve of the best for Scotland

  1. Chapelcross, Annan
  2. Cockenzie Power Station, East Lothian
  3. Fort William Hydro Site / Carrs Corner
  4. i3, Irvine
  5. Machrihanish, Campbeltown
  6. Meygen Data Centre, Caithness
  7. Michelin Scotland Innovation Park, Dundee
  8. Peel Ports Hunterston, West Kilbride
  9. 9Pyramids Data Centre, Bathgate
  10. Queensway Park Data Centres, Glenrothes
  11. Salter’s Business Park / Edinburgh Caledonian Film Studio
  12. Zero Four, Montrose

 

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