Simec Atlantis Energy has unveiled plans for what could be the world’s first ocean energy-powered data centre, a “hyperscale” IT hub in the Caithness region of Scotland to be run off the technology developer’s nearby MeyGen tidal array.
The ambitious scheme, which Atlantis is fleshing out with engineering outfit AECOM, would be developed around a private-wire network between its operational marine renewables project and a yet-to-be-built data centre, with connections to multiple international subsea fibre optic cables, providing a fast, broad bandwidth connection “to London, Europe and the US”.
The data centre is foreseen being online in 2024 in line with expansion plans at MeyGen – a 6MW tidal project with seabed lease and consents for a further 80MW and a long-horizon potential for 400MW, but “a smaller initial data centre module could be deployed sooner to draw on the output from the existing tidal array”, according to Atlantis.
“Data is being touted as the new oil. It is arguably becoming the world’s most valuable resource, and the amount of data requiring storage is increasing at a staggering pace. However, data centres are undeniably power hungry, and the clients of data centre operators are rightly demanding power be sourced from renewable and sustainable sources,” stated Simec Atlantis CEO Tim Cornelius.
“This project represents the marriage of a world leading renewable energy project in MeyGen with a data centre operator that seeks to provide its clients with a large amount of computing power, powered from a sustainable and reliable source – the ocean.”
Cornelius added: “We have many of the ingredients to provide clean power to the data centre, including a large grid connection agreement, proximity to international fibre optic connections and persistent cool weather.”
Atlantis, which he said was “in discussions with world-leading data centre operators to progress plans”, is currently assessing the feasibility of connecting the project to international fibre optic connections and undertaking systems design for a data centre “with access to predictable renewable generation with grid back-up”.
Cornelius said a private wire-connected tidal-powered data centre in the Caithness region could also ease constraints on other local renewable energy development that is limited by the current grid capacity.
He added that Atlantis expected the turbines to power the proposed data centre will be manufactured in Scotland.