Plans unveiled for world’s largest ocean powered data centre, Scotland

18 September 2019

Simec Atlantis Energy Limited (Atlantis) has unveiled plans for a data centre in the Caithness region of Scotland to be powered by electricity supplied via a private wire network from tidal turbines at the existing MeyGen project site.

If it goes ahead, this would be the first ocean powered data centre in the world, with the potential to attract a hyperscale data centre occupier to Scotland. It is expected that the data centre would be connected to multiple international subsea fibre optic cables, offering a fast and reliable connection to London, Europe and the US. Further connectivity to the central belt using domestic terrestrial networks could significantly improve Scottish data and connectivity resilience, Atlantis said.

The MeyGen project has a seabed lease and consents secured for a further 80MW of tidal capacity, in addition to the 6MW operational array which has now generated more than 20,000MWh of electricity for export to the grid. The target operations date for the data centre is expected to be 2024, in line with the expansion plans for the tidal array, however a smaller initial data centre module could be deployed sooner to draw on the output from the existing tidal array.

Atlantis has been working with engineering firm AECOM to assess the feasibility of connecting to high speed international fibre optic connections and undertake the systems design for a data centre with access to predictable renewable generation with grid back-up, at a location which benefits from low temperatures to assist cooling of the data centre.

The data centre could also alleviate constraints on other local renewable energy development, which is restricted by the current grid capacity and the closure of renewable energy subsidy mechanisms.  Projects including MeyGen would be able to sell power directly to the data centre via a new private wire network and thus are expected to benefit from a premium to the wholesale power prices which are achieved when dispatching output via the National Grid.

The private wire connection is intended to provide an alternative pathway to construction of the next large phase of the MeyGen project without reliance on the UK government’s current limited support schemes for renewable energy.  Atlantis is in discussions with world leading data centre operators to progress plans for the data centre and facilitate the expansion of MeyGen using the Scottish supply chain.

It is expected that the turbines to power this giant data centre will be manufactured in Scotland.



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