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January 27, 2016updated 30 Aug 2016 5:09pm

Scotland’s biggest data centre first in UK to be 100% green

News: Facility projects huge numbers, but who is leading and who is behind the size game north of England?

By Joao Lima

What will be one of the largest data centres in the country, and the largest data centre campus in Scotland, has seen construction works start this week.

Located in Glenrothes, Fife, the Queensway Park data centre will boost 250,000 sq ft of dedicated server halls with the project topping nearly £150 million.

The facility will be built in three different phases and have an IT load capacity of up to 20MWs.

The developers claim the data centre to be the first facility of its kind in the UK to draw 100% of its energy from renewable sources, as it is connected to the UK’s largest biomass plant.

It will also will feature high speed carrier neutral data connections stretching to over 7,500 kilometres across the UK with global connection points.

The site is being built in a joint venture between Edinburgh based developers County Properties Group and AOC Group who are in advanced discussions with Etix Everywhere, an international developer and operator of collocation data centres to run the facilities and provide technical support.

Constructors of the Queensway Park campus broke ground this Wednesday with the first phase of the project expected to be completed and ready for occupation within around 18 months.

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Accommodating up to 1,000 high performance computing racks, the data centre is being built amid the fast growing rate of cloud computing and aims to cater for all sizes of enterprise with facilities for collocation and dedicated server halls.

During the building stage, the campus is expected to create over 300 jobs, with 50 other on-site jobs being originated following completion to run the site, including technical and operational staff.

In a statement, the companies said that "the economic impact on a wider scale will be enormous and help balance the negative effect of recent job losses in the area".

Queensway Park director Alan O’Connor said: "This is one of the largest and most challenging projects we have been involved in and is the culmination of four years carefully planning every aspect of design and resilience."

Also commenting on the data centre’s importance to the home nation, Lesley Laird, Fife Council’s deputy leader and executive spokesperson for economy and planning, said that the council is delighted that Fife is set to be the home of Scotland’s largest and most energy efficient data centre campus.

He said: "Fife is at the forefront of renewable energy and innovation, and this most recent development reinforces our position. With over 300 construction jobs being available during the build process and up to 50 full time posts being created on completion, this investment in the Glenrothes area is a positive boost for local jobs and good news for people across Fife."

The Queensway Park data centre campus follows the Scottish Government Digital Future strategy announced in 2014. The data hosting and data centre strategy sets the vision that Scotland’s public sector data hosting as cost-effective, carbon neutral and one that makes appropriate use of cloud technology, for the delivery of efficient and highly available ICT services.

Scotland has seen over the last year several projects of a certain scale being drawn. The main project was announced in October last year. Colo DataVita unveiled plans to build a 100,000 sq ft site in Fortis, which it claims it will be the one of the most efficient in the region at a PUE of 1.18 also powered by renewable energy.

With a cost of £200 million, the facility is projected to have up to 16MWs of total power and N+N indirect free air cooling.

In June 2015, colo Pulsant also revealed it would break ground on the expansion of its Edinburgh data centre campus in South Gyle, making it the colo with the largest commercial floor space in Scotland.

Matt Lovell, CTO at Pulsant, told CBR: "The South Gyle campus has been upgraded and now includes two facilities with a combined area of 162,000 square feet. The sites incorporate 1000 racks and are PCI-DSS compliant, as well as ISO27001, ISO 14001 and ISO9001. South Gyle also features 14MW of diversely supplied power [from 100% renewable sources], and operates at an average PUE of 1.2."

Adding to the list of the largest data centres in Scotland, is colo Onyx’s site also in Edinburgh. Measuring a total of 13,000 sq ft, the hub has 6.4MVA of power and 500 racks.

Next is iomart’s Glasgow data centre with a combined gross capacity of 12,000 sq ft divided in two data halls.
The carrier neutral facility has less than 1MW of power density, however it supports 2MW diesel generators to keep services up in response to any power failure.

Nevertheless, the second largest data centre in Scotland and operational since 2012 belongs to cloud firm Oracle. The company has a 160,000 sq ft hub in Linlithgow, West Lothian, with 10MW of available power and N+1 redundancy systems.

Despite the Queensway Park going to claim the title of the largest data centre in Scotland, the facility will still be far from the UK’s largest data centre.

At 750,000 sq ft, the Next Generation Data in Newport, Wales, is online since 1998, has 90MW of power and contains 19,000 server cabinets. The site is powered 100% by renewable energy and is also largest data centre in Europe.

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