Is Scotland the new hotspot for hyperscale data centres?

Scotland’s capacity for renewable energy and sustainable outlook make it attractive as a potential hub for sustainable data centre development

In the data centre world, sustainability is hugely increasing in importance - and at a time where data centre demand is also booming, it remains at the top of the agenda. Sustainability solutions can be applied to existing sites, but when building new facilities, green initiatives must be factored into construction before breaking ground.

It is no surprise then that Scotland is fast becoming an attractive location for a data centre hub, with the country’s temperate climate and renewable energy capability making it the perfect location for green data centres. 

In particular, the sites outlined in Host in Scotland have suggested conditions that could quickly and easily lend themselves to becoming home to a new green data centre.

The importance of sustainable data centre development

Data centres must be located in well-connected locations with access to many carriers and multiple redundant fibre connections to major bandwidth providers. Scotland’s capacity for renewable energy ultimately makes it an attractive location for data centres.

The country’s skills base is based on a historical expertise in engineering in areas such as transport and oil and gas which are now transitioning to leadership in hydrogen and sustainable fuel and energy alternatives.

Scotland is also sparsely populated, with its population density listed of 70 people per square kilometre. Concerning site selection, this means that there is high quality land available which creates opportunities for modern buildings with highly efficient electrical and mechanical infrastructure design.

These advantages align with the Scottish Government’s Green Datacentres and Digital Connectivity Vision and Action Plan which positions Scotland as a leading zero-carbon, cost-competitive location.

Their work identified the five new sites, which feature potentially good availability for renewable energy, bringing the list of potential sites across Scotland to 20. These new sites are Aberdeen ETZ, Queensferry One and Westfield Park in Fife, Millerhill/Old Craighall in Midlothian and Whitecross Innovation Park, Falkirk.

“Data centre development expects integration with local economies”

An i3 Solutions Group GHG abatement initiative highlights an evaluation of clean on-site power generation; Power storage such as battery (chemical), Kinetic, Pumped Hydro, and Gravity; Microgrids (islanded and integrated operation) and new revenue potential of being a grid power supplier are fundamental considerations for large scale developments. 

Kerr Johnstone, Director of i3 Solutions Group, said: “Scotland has been talked about as a location for big and hyperscale data centres for almost two decades. The geography, climate, access to renewables, and improving subsea connectivity, tick many of the development criteria boxes for data centres. 

“All reinforce the huge potential for the country to attract multiple large scale data centre developments. Scotland’s ability to attract hyperscale data centre developments would appear to reside in its renewable power generation capacity and energy storage potential.” 

He continued: “The planning environment for data centre development expects integration with local economies, Scotland’s broader economy and adherence to sustainability goals. This could work in favour of developers. 

“Digital infrastructure requires long term sustainability. All large-scale data centre developments are seeking a clean energy future but many will also require the combination of benefits that Scotland has in abundance.”



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