Cold winter could compound data centre construction delays

By Harry Menear
Freezing temperatures predicted across the Nordics and North America could further delay construction projects already slowed down by COVID-19...

Data centre construction projects in Scandinavia, Finland, Iceland, Canada and the United States could face serious setbacks this winter, as freezing temperatures cause further delays for construction projects already slowed down by the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. 

According to a new report by backup power and infrastructure solution firm Aggreko, delays caused by the pandemic to construction phases like excavation - which cannot be carried out once snowfall and frost freezes the ground - could delay a number of projects until the Spring. “It is at this point where data centre providers need to implement temporary heating to thaw the frozen ground for excavation to continue,” notes a statement from Aggreko. 

During construction, uninsulated rooms will need to be heated in order to create acceptable conditions for construction workers, as well as to help create the necessary ambient conditions to avoid structural issues. 

Billy Durie, Global Sector Head of Data Centres at Aggreko, added: “As the winters become more extreme each year, we are seeing increasing amounts of requests for supplementary heating for data centres to allow vital construction to continue. Due to delays relating to COVID-19, we are already seeing delays face construction and, as temperatures plummet, heating systems must be quickly implemented to allow construction to continue and avoid further delays.” 

Despite the COVID-19 crisis, demand for digital services has grown throughout the year - largely supported by a global experiment with remote work. However, rising demand is at risk of exceeding supply, as construction projects around the world slow down in response to lockdown orders and social distancing measures. 

The Associated General Contractors of America recently conducted a survey that found that 60% of US construction firms had experienced project cancellations or significant delays due to the pandemic.  

In the Nordic and NA regions, which are home to some of the world’s leading data centre industries, significant delays could cause widespread disruption over the winter, as companies’ expansion and construction plans grind to a halt until the snows melt. 

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