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January 19, 2024updated 24 Jan 2024 11:18am

Google ploughs £790m into new UK data centre

The new Hertfordshire facility reaffirms Google’s commitment to the UK market, despite heightened regulatory scrutiny in recent years.

By Greg Noone

Google has announced its construction of a new UK data centre facility in Waltham Cross, Hertfordshire. The 33-acre site will cost £790m to build, said the search giant, and will add to Google’s expanding cloud computing capacity in the UK. The new facility will also benefit from a power purchase agreement struck with renewable energy company ENGIE in 2022, allowing it to tap into wind power generated by the latter’s Moray West wind farm on the Scottish coast. 

Google’s investment in the new site, said its managing director for the UK & Ireland Debbie Weinstein, “is the latest in a series of investments that support Brits and the wider economy at large and is further evidence of Google’s continued commitment to the UK – a key country for our business and a pioneering world leader in AI, technology and science”.

A render of Google's new data centre facility near Waltham Cross, UK.
Google’s new data centre campus in Hertfordshire will benefit from wind energy supplied from the Scottish coast and off-site heat recovery. (Photo courtesy of Google)

Google data centre announced amid regulator woes

Google added that its new facility will utilise off-site heat recovery, a process wherein waste heat generated by the operations of service is captured and used to warm other buildings – in its case, nearby homes and businesses – instead of being discharged into the air. This system, the search giant continued, will also be complemented by an air-based cooling system. 

Its announcement of a new data centre campus at Waltham Cross follows a round of like commitments by Google to the UK in recent years, including another billion-dollar purchase of offices in Central Saint Giles, London, in 2022; the augmentation of its existing office complex in King’s Cross; and the provision of free digital skills training to over a million people since 2015. It also follows two years of regulatory scrutiny of Google Cloud by UK competition watchdogs. Though only occupying an estimated 10% of the current UK cloud market, the firm was nevertheless included in both Ofcom and the CMA’s investigation into alleged anti-competitive practices by hyperscalers in the sector. 

In the meantime, Google Cloud has mounted several rhetorical offensives against its competitors in the global cloud market. Earlier this month it eliminated egress fees for customers seeking to migrate their data to market rivals while simultaneously accusing its competitors of imposing restrictive licensing conditions on their users. This followed requests by Google Cloud to the CMA in December 2023 to more closely investigate Microsoft Azure for such practices, effectively repeating allegations of anti-competitive behaviour it made against Redmond in March and Oracle in June

Read more: CMA scrutinising Microsoft’s relationship with OpenAI

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