$1.9 Billion 'Data Farm' Planned for Scotland
July 8th, 2008 By: Rich Miller
Plans are moving forward for an ambitious “data center village” in Scotland that eventually could span 3 million square feet of space and cost 1 billion pounds ($1.9 billion) to complete. Internet Villages International is the brainchild of Peter Hewkin, who says the project has initial funding of 26 million pounds ($50 million).
The project was originally targeted for Lockerbie, Scotland upon its announcement in December, but Hewkin and IVI are now focusing their efforts on a 300-acre plot of farmland in Annandale. The Lockerbie site was found to have an ethylene pipeline network running through portions of the property. “It has been a major blow but we have worked hard to find another site within this 20-mile zone near Lockerbie, which is absolutely perfect for a data farm,” Hewkin recently told local media.
The change in site has apparently not dimmed the interest of potential tenants. The cost of the IVI project, initially pegged at 600 million pounds ($1.2 billion) has since been increased. “Several Fortune 500 companies and public sector organizations expressed an interest at first but now we have huge international companies on board,” Hewkin said. “We are talking about the largest world IT corporations; major household names.”
One of the major marketing points for IVI and Scotland locations is the ability to design a data center around renewable energy sources. Plans call for the IVI data centers to use electricity from a nearby biomass plant at Steven’s Croft operated by E-On UK (Powergen) and local wind farms. Local weather makes the area a prospect for using outside air to cool the servers (air-side economization). Waste heat from the data center buildings may be used to heat a nearby residential development.
Scotland’s suitability for data center development was highlighted last fall by Gordon Thomson, Cisco’s director for Ireland and Scotland. “I think this could be a phenomenal play for Scotland,” Thomson told Silicon.com. “We could build you a data centre that is 100 per cent green. Wind and tidal energy are there in abundance. We have the telecoms infrastructure and the high-capacity networks. And we have a good, local skills base.”