CapitaLand buys $757.7mn hyperscale data centre in China
CapitaLand, a Singaporean investment firm, has purchased its first hyperscale data centre in China. This morning, the company announced that it has to acquire a 55 MW capacity, 75,000 square metre facility in Shanghai.
The data centre has been bought out from two Chinese firms and the acquisition is expected to be completed in Q3 of this year.
The 55 MW campus comprises four buildings with a combined floorspace of 75,000sqm - Courtesy of CapitaLand Group
Real estate companies have woken up over the past few years to the possibilities of data centres as digital infrastructure investments. Despite high initial CapEx barriers to entry, a from November of 2020 noted that, “Whilst Covid-19 has brought data centres in the spotlight this year, investors interest for the sector has been growing over the past five years,” with the authors explaining that “The fundamentals of the sectors are strong and solid with a flourishing demand set to grow dramatically in the next five years.”
CapitaLand has been in the data centre business for a number of years itself, and owns four data centres in Singapore, 11 in Europe, and it is the fund and asset manager for the development of a data centre in Korea.
However, this latest purchase represents the company’s first data centre in the Chinese market. Although CapitaLand has been operating in China since 1994, the company has so far constrained its operations to the commercial, retail and business development sectors - where its portfolio numbers some 200 properties in over 40 cities.
The Chinese data centre market is the second-largest in the world, after the US, and the largest in APAC. This first purchase, according to He Jihong, Chief Executive Officer of the CapitaLand Group’s Data Centre subsidiary, is representative of where the firm is headed. “We will leverage our existing local expertise and networks to further grow our data centre portfolio. In addition to acquiring operating assets, we have the capability to develop data centres on greenfield sites and acquire brownfield projects, drawing on CapitaLand Group’s ecosystem of capital and business partners,” she said in a statement to the press earlier on Wednesday.
She added: “For example, in China we are exploring opportunities with established partners such as AVIC Trust to invest more in this sector.”
Puah Tze Shyang, CEO of CapitaLand’s Chinese operations, added that the company’s "entry into the data centre market in China will further diversify our portfolio across asset classes and build more operating capabilities.”
He continued, noting that the purchase is in line with the group’s strategy to pivot it’s Chinese portfolio towards “new economy assets” in the market. “We see strong potential to expand our data centre portfolio in cities such as Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen and leverage our growing base of new economy assets to bolster our fund management business in tandem,” he said.
NUS and NTU launch cooling project 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.