Khazna to add 160 MW of capacity in the UAE by 2023
This week, the United Arab Emirates’ largest data centre wholesaler, , announced a massive expansion of its operations, aimed at fuelling significant growth and transformation of the emirati digital economy.
Khazna currently operates three facilities, two of which are located in Abu Dhabi and one in Dubai. Collectively, they have an IT load capacity of 40 MW.
The expansion project will see Khazna, in addition to increasing capacity at its existing facilities, embark on the construction of multiple new data centres across the country - likely in other major population centres like Sharjah and Al Ain.
A Spokesperson from Khazna revealed that, by 2023, the company will have expanded its total capacity to 200 MW, a 160 MW increase over its current capabilities, with a focus on enabling hyperscalers to operate in the country.
The UAE is one of the clear leaders in its region for efforts to digitally transform its economy. In 2019, the IMD’s World Digital Competitiveness Ranking report listed the country as first in the Arab region (and 12th globally).
In response to the COVID-19 crisis, the emirati government accelerated its national digital transformation plans even further last year. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai commented at the time that, “Anyone who thinks that the world after COVID-19 will be the same as the one before it, is mistaken.”
The UAE has taken bold steps to both adopt new technologies and to attract technology investment to its shores. The country’s 5G rollout has continued apace with other global leaders, and AI-powered track and trace programs have done a lot for containing the spread of COVID-19 within the Emirates.
Khazna’s project is an indicator of just how much the country’s digital economy is likely to grow in the next four years.
“This significant expansion will support the economic ambitions of the UAE in the coming years,” said Hassan Al Naqbi, Khazna’s CEO earlier this week.
“The UAE government and private sectors are pressing ahead with digital transformation, which has gathered pace in the last year through necessity. The experience of remote working and the growth of online services during the global pandemic has underlined the importance of robust, state-of-the-art digital infrastructure. Demand for flexible, scalable and secure data storage is increasing rapidly, and this trend will continue as smart city and smart government projects gather momentum, cloud computing adoption grows and 5G networks are rolled out.”
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.