Dec 2, 2020

Aquila Capital enters the data centre business

Data Centres
Joanna England
3 min
The German real estate firm has announced the construction of its first energy-efficient data centre facility
The German real estate firm has announced the construction of its first energy-efficient data centre facility...

A Hamburg-based real estate asset specialist has broken into the data centre market by announcing the launch of its first construction project located near Oslo.

Aquila Capital, which will operate the data centre under the brand name AQ Compute, will begin construction of the facility this year. The operational launch is scheduled for the end of 2021.

The company already has extensive experience in planning and constructing large-scale green logistics facilities, as well as expertise in the renewable energy market as it has been developing sustainable, energy-efficient real estate and logistics projects in Europe since 2012.

The 20,000 sqm data centre will offer a capacity of up to 10 megawatts of IT power with a focus on high-performance computing (HPC) applications, such as artificial intelligence, machine learning and graphic calculations. 

Aquila Capital has also partnered with Cloud&Heat Technologies, a German IT enterprise which specialises in the construction of energy and cost-efficient data centre solutions. Plans include the addition of a hybrid cooling system that will enable energy-efficient water or air cooling to be installed. This will significantly reduce the data centre's operating costs and CO2 emissions.

The facility will be powered exclusively by renewable energy. Aquila Capital is already the largest operator of environmentally friendly run-of-river power plants in Norway and owns 100 hydropower stations in the country, though it is unclear whether the data centre will be powered by an Aquila-generated supply.

Increased demand

Global demand for data centre capacity is steadily increasing, with North America, SEA and Europe leading the charge. Earlier this year, the UK data centre market was forecast to reach $8.4bn, growing at a CAGR of over 4% from 2020 to 2025

Significant growth has also occurred in the Nordics. With Sweden as the frontrunner, approximately 200 data centres have been constructed in the region over the past decade. Data centres are becoming increasingly important due to the growing volume of information resulting from the digital transformation of global economies and societies.

Currently, Norway provides climatic, political and geographically compatible conditions for the data centre market. Due to the country’s lower temperatures, facilities can be air-conditioned using energy-efficient innovations. 

It also offers low-cost energy, with 98% renewable energy sources and a well-developed digital infrastructure. In addition, the Norwegian government supports sustainable investment projects with tax concessions.

Roman Rosslenbroich, CEO and co-founder of Aquila Capital, said the move into cloud computing and data centre construction was motivated by demand. He explained, “The project fits seamlessly into the sustainable investment strategy of Aquila Capital: The global demand for new technologies based on energy-intensive IT applications is steadily increasing. As a result, more and more climate-damaging greenhouse gases are being emitted. With sustainable and above all energy-efficient data centres, we are making a significant contribution to reducing global CO2 emissions.” 

Rosslenbroich continued, “At the same time, the growing data centre market offers investors an attractive environment with sustainable return opportunities.”

He added that the investment is part of the long-term strategy of Aquila Capital’s new data centre business segment, which will enable customers to outsource their server hardware for the required computing capacity.

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Jun 21, 2021

NUS and NTU launch cooling project for tropical data centres

3 min
A project by The Nanyang Technological University and the National University of Singapore aims to find cooling solutions for tropical data centres

The National University of Singapore (NUS) and the Nanyang Technological University (NTU), have announced a project in an attempt to source and develop new cooling solutions for data centres located in tropical areas. According to the companies, the programme costs S$23mn (US$17.1mn) and plans to research, build and test innovative and sustainable cooling solutions. 

The Sustainable Tropical Data Centre Testbed (STDCT)

The NUS and NTU say that the Sustainable Tropical Data Centre Testbed (STDCT) will act as a research point and innovation hub for the project. Facebook, along with the National Research Foundation Singapore (NRF), is also involved, providing funding for the programme. Further support from other partners includes the Infocomm Media Development Authority, Ascenix, CoolestDC Keppel Data Centres, Red Dot Analytics, and New Media Express. 

Commenting on working with the companies, Facebook Vice President of Infrastructure, Alex Johnson, said: “We are excited about the opportunity to partner NUS, NTU, Keppel Data Centres and the CoolestSG community to develop innovative solutions that reduce the carbon footprint and energy consumption of the average data centre, particularly those located in tropical areas like Singapore”. 

The NTU and NUS highlight that Singapore houses 60% of Southeast Asia’s total data centre market, and aims to supply 12% of the country’s total energy needs by 2030. This results in the need to reduce the carbon footprints and power consumption of data centres, meaning more innovative cooling solutions are required, the NTU and NUS said. 

Professor Chen Thuan, Deputy President of Research & Technology at the NUS, said: “Data centres are a critical enabler of the digital economy, but the average data centre can exert a significant environmental burden. Aligned with RIE 2025, sustainability is a key research focus of NUS, and our researchers have deep expertise in developing integrated solutions for tropical, urban and Asian settings”.

How will the Sustainable Tropical Data Centre Testbed (STDCT) help to provide cooling solutions?

According to the NUS and NTU, the STDCT will be built using equipment such as a novel desiccant-coated heat exchanger and a StatePoint Liquid Cooling System (SPLC) designed by both Nortek Air Solutions and Facebook. The institutions also say they will adopt chip-level hybrid cooling to ensure servers remain cool. 

Furthermore, the use of artificial intelligence (AI) will aim to manage the “smart operations” of the technologies so that the data centres are water and power efficient, as well as able to preserve equipment and servers. 

The NTU and NSU said in a joint statement the combination of the cooling technologies could reduce energy consumption “significantly” and greenhouse gas emissions by up to 25%, compared to traditional air-cooled data centres. If adopted industry-wide across the entire tropical region, the energy usage of the data centre industry could potentially be lowered by at least 40%”, the companies said. 

The STDCT is expected to be operational by 1 October 2021.


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