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Mon December 04 2023

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Caithness earmarked for tidal-powered data centre

9 Sep 19 Simec Atlantis Energy has announced plans to build what it says will be the world’s first ocean-powered data centre.

The data centre in the Caithness region of Scotland would be supplied with power via a private wire network from tidal turbines at the existing MeyGen site. 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.

Simec Atlantis has been working with Aecom to assess the feasibility of connecting to high-speed international fibre optic connections and to undertake the systems design for the data centre. It said that there would be access to predictable renewable generation with grid back-up and that the location benefits from low temperatures to assist cooling of the data centre.

Tim Cornelius, CEO of Simec Atlantis, said: “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.

“This exciting 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.”

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The company believes that the development would have 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 connections to London, Europe and the USA. Further connectivity to the central belt using domestic terrestrial networks could significantly improve Scottish data and connectivity resilience, it said.

The data centre could alleviate constraints on other local renewable energy development, which is restricted by the current grid capacity and the closure of renewable energy subsidy mechanisms. said Atlantis.

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. 

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.

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